Four-time major golf champion Rory McIlroy has responded to the criticism he received after playing 18 holes of golf with US President Donald Trump last month.
The world number three golfer accepted an invitation from Trump to join him for a round at Trump International in Florida on February 19.
The social media backlash that followed was so severe that McIlroy felt obliged to counter “ridiculous” claims that he was a “fascist” and a “bigot”.
“I approached it as a round of golf,” McIlroy said when addressing the press ahead of the WGC-Mexico Championship, according to The Guardian.
“Anyone’s beliefs, politics or whatever, just put that to one side for a minute.”
The 27-year-old Northern Irishman then revealed the strangest thing about golfing with President Trump.
“To go there and see 30 secret service and 30 cops and snipers in the trees, it’s just a surreal experience for me to see something like that,” he said. “That was part of the reason I wanted to go and play.”
McIlroy also claimed he would have played with Obama had he had the opportunity, and that he even golfed with President Clinton and “spent time” with President Bush.
McIlroy concluded by remarking that he did not discuss foreign policy with Trump as “we talked golf the entire day.”
He said: “I think [Trump] was happier to talk golf than anything else that he has to do these days.”
McIlroy has overcome the rib fracture that prevented him from competing for over eight weeks and is due to join the rest of the field at the WGC Mexico Championship this week. The tournament begins on Thursday, March 3.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.