- Alistair Tait
For the love of Rory McIlroy
You have to love Rory McIlroy. He doesn’t hold back. He says what he thinks.
Talk about a golf journalist’s dream.
However, why he opines on contentious topics is beyond me. He must have broad shoulders, because you can bet he’s going to have a huge target on his back after his latest comments about U.S. President Donald Trump.
McIlroy’s interview with John Huggan and Lawrence Donegan on the McKellar podcast is sure to rebound on him at some point. When asked about the 45th president of the United States, McIlroy said:
"We're in the midst of something that's pretty serious right now. 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."
This is the same Rory McIlroy who played golf with Trump at his course in Florida in 2017. He says he won’t do that again, if he’s even asked.
"I don't know if he'd want to play with me again after what I just said. 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."
Refreshing honesty, as he’s shown many times before. However, he’s just painted an X on the back of his Nike golf shirt. It’s a risky thing to do, especially since he knows from experience his comments can come back to haunt him.
Remember in 2009 when Rory called the Ryder Cup “an exhibition?” He had to row back from that comment. He apologised just before the match by saying:
“It's definitely not an exhibition, it's a great spectacle. I said exhibition last year when I was not focused on a team event."
Do you recall the 2016 Open Championship when he said he wasn’t playing in the Olympic Games because....
“I didn't get into golf to try and grow the game. I got into golf to win championships and win major championships. I didn't get into golf to get other people into the game.”
He had to row back from those remarks, too.
He might find it harder to row back from his observations about the most powerful man on the planet.
Rory took a pasting from a small minority of fans during the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, a minority who let the rest of the fans down badly. Not just Rory, but all 12 European team members. Journalists were also abused. I witnessed that first hand.
Imagine the pasting he might get if this year’s Ryder Cup goes ahead at Whistling Straits with fans. Maybe a behind closed door match might be to Rory’s benefit.
Unlike many other top players, Rory McIlroy is always insightful and interesting to listen to, even if he does sometimes make a rod for his own back.