'A lot of them like my politics': Donald Trump digs in after Rory McIlroy becomes latest sports star to slam US COVID-19 response
World number one McIlroy teamed up with fellow pros Dustin Johnson, Matthew Wolff and Rickie Fowler to raise more than $5 million for a charity fund to help in the fight against the coronavirus this past weekend.
The event came just days after McIlroy's comments to the media that saw the golf star blast the Federal response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, describing Trump's reaction to the health crisis as "terrible".Also on rt.com Double bogey: Government figures suggest President Donald Trump’s golf expenses make him 10th best-paid ‘athlete’ in America
"We’re in the midst of something that’s pretty serious right now and the fact that he’s trying to politicize it and make it a campaign rally and say we’re administering the most tests in (the) world like it is a contest – there’s something that just is terrible," McIlroy told the McKellar Golf Podcast.
"It’s not the way a leader should act. I don’t know if he’d want to play with me again after what I just said, but I wouldn’t (play with him again)."
Trump, who is an avid golfer, regularly plays rounds with several of the sport's top stars - but has come in for criticism from the media due to the regular, taxpayer-funded trips he makes to golf resorts.
This is despite Trump maintaining during his presidential campaign that he would be "too busy" to play golf in office, while criticizing his predecessor Barack Obama for taking in rounds of golf while he was in power.
To date, the taxpayer cost of Trump's golf trips has been calculated to be in the region of $134 million, per trumpgolfcount.com.
Asked about McIlroy's comments, Trump didn't address them specifically, but maintained that several of the sport's top stars support him.
"A lot of them (golfers) are very political, actually. A lot of them like my politics very much and some don’t, I guess," he said.
"The ones that don’t I don’t get to see as much."
Meanwhile, President Trump has said that it is "wonderful" that the likes of McIlroy may well be able to compete in the near future, adding that the return of sports is imperative for the "psyche" of the nation.Also on rt.com Easier said than done? Trump says major US leagues 'have to get back' but Covid-19 carnage could mean long waiting game
"It’s a wonderful thing to see," Trump told reporters of the resumption of sports.
"I’m getting a little tired watching 10-year-old golf tournaments where you know who won. It’s very nice to be watching and very nice to be with you.
"We want to get sports back,” he said. "We miss sports, we need sports in terms of the psyche – the psyche of our country – and that’s what we’re doing.
"It’ll start off with small crowds, if any. You saw UFC the other night, they had really just a lighted ring in the middle of an empty arena and I’m not sure that so many people missed the fans. I don’t think so in that particular case."Also on rt.com 'We love it': President Donald Trump sends video message congratulating Dana White and UFC for holding UFC 249 event (VIDEO)