Rory McIlroy criticises US president Donald Trump over coronavirus response

Rory McIlroy
McIlroy returned to the world number one position for the first time in five years in February

Rory McIlroy has criticised US president Donald Trump for his handling of the coronavirus crisis.

The Northern Ireland golfer said the president was trying to "politicise" the pandemic, which has led to more than 86,000 deaths in America.

McIlroy was criticised for playing golf with Trump at his International Golf Club in Florida in 2017.

"We're in the midst of something that's pretty serious right now," McIlroy told the McKellar Golf Podcast.

"He's trying to politicise it and make it a campaign rally, saying that [the US] administers the most tests in the world like it's a contest.

"It's just not the way a leader should act and there is a bit of diplomacy that you need to show, and I just don't think he's shown that, especially in these times."

While admitting he enjoyed his 18 holes with the President three years ago, the world number one said it was not something he would do again.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump became President in 2017

"I don't know if he'd want to play with me again after what I just said," he continued.

"I know it's very self-serving of me to say 'no' and, if I don't, then it means then I'm not putting myself in position to be put under scrutiny and that I'm avoiding that. But I probably wouldn't, no.

"The day that I did spend with him and others was very enjoyable. He is very charismatic and was nice to everyone. He obviously has something, or he wouldn't be in the White House.

"That doesn't mean I agree with everything - or, in fact, anything - that he says."

McIlroy will lead golf's return after a two-month hiatus in a televised charity match in Florida on Sunday, when he will play with Dustin Johnson against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Woolfe in a $4m skins game in aid of Covid-19 charities.

With the backing of the PGA Tour, this will be seen as a first tentative step since the coronavirus lockdown, with no professional golf having been played since the Players Championship was abandoned after one round on 12 March.

"For us to go out and play a golf match, it's awesome that we can do that, bring some entertainment to quite a few people but also to help in some way," McIlroy told the PGA Tour website.

"What we're doing is a great thing, it's a very small piece of all this but I'm just happy to be able to help in some way and bring some joy to people, I guess, when they haven't had anything to really look forward to for a couple of months."

McIlroy also said he would play in all three PGA Tour events in June when the season resumes.

Competition is set to return behind closed doors at the Charles Schwab Colonial event in Texas on 11 June.