When Rory McIlroy accepted an invitation to play golf with President Donald Trump earlier this year, McIlroy found himself on the brutal receiving end of harsh criticism. He was a bit blindsided by the reactions he received and that left quite the impression on him.

“After the sort of backlash I received, I’d think twice about it,” McIlroy said, per The New York Times, when asked if he would accept another invitation from President Trump to be a golfing partner. “I’ve spent time in President Trump’s company before, and that does not mean that I agree with everything that he says. Actually, the opposite.”

The reason for the backlash came from McIlroy offering criticism of Muirfield Golf Club in Scotland for not allowing women as members until last month, yet accepting an offer to golf with the president in Florida. Trump has been a divisive character when it comes to women’s issues, so accepting an opportunity to join Trump was polarizing on levels McIlroy was not aware would come back to haunt him.

As far as McIlroy was concerned, he seemed more interested in the commotion surrounding a golf outing with the President of the United States and not at all about politics. Apparently, Trump wasn’t concerned about politics either, according to McIlroy.

From The New York Times:

“Whenever an invitation or a request comes my way, I don’t want to say I jump at the chance,” McIlroy said, “but at the same time, you know, to see the Secret Service, to see the scene, I mean, that’s really what I was going for. I mean, there was not one bit of politics discussed in that round of golf. He was more interested talking about the grass that he just put on the greens.

“But, yeah, look, it’s a difficult one. I felt I would have been making more of a statement if I had turned it down. It’s not a tough place to be put in, but it was a round of golf and nothing more.”

Say what you will about Trump and his administration, just as you will about any president, but when an invitation to golf with the president comes your way, it’s difficult to say no. Not even an accomplished golfer like McIlroy can say no, the first time. But if McIlroy says no to Trump’s next invite, at least Trump can make a call to Tom Brady.

[New York Times]

About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Previously contributed to NBCSports.com. Host of the Locked On Nittany Lions Podcast. FWAA member and Philadelphia-area resident.