Rory McIlroy says golf outing with Donald Trump not 'an endorsement or a political statement'

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Rory McIlroy took to Twitter on Friday afternoon to set the record straight about his round of golf on Sunday with President Donald Trump.

McIlroy, 27, who is recovering from a rib injury that has kept him from playing competitive golf since January, received a late call Saturday asking him to be part of a golf group the next day with Trump at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida. McIlroy lives in the area.

The four-time major champion from Northern Ireland since has felt a considerable amount of backlash for playing with the president.

"I don't agree with everything my friends or family say or do, but I still play golf with them," McIlroy wrote in his lengthy post on Twitter. "Last week, I was invited to play golf with the President of the United States. (Whether) you respect the person who holds that position or not, you respect the office that he holds. This wasn't an endorsement or a political statement of any kind. It was, quite simply, a round of golf.

"Golf was our common ground, nothing else. I've traveled all around the world and have been fortunate enough to befriend people from many different countries, beliefs and cultures.

"To be called a fascist and a bigot by some people because I spent time in someone's company is just ridiculous. I hope, to some degree, this clarifies my decision to accept the decision that was offered to me."

Ernie Els had a similar answer to questions about playing with Trump the week prior. He also got a last-minute call and felt that when asked by the president of the United States to play golf, you play golf.

"I felt it was a duty to play with the president if you get the call," Els told the New York Times. "If it was Barack Obama, I would have played. If it was Hillary Clinton, I would have played."

Els played with Trump at Trump National in Jupiter, Florida, where Els is a member. Tiger Woods also played with Trump before Christmas.

Two years ago, before Trump was a candidate for president, he made a sideshow out of retrieving a club from one of the lakes at the Trump Doral Resort in Miami, where the WGC-Cadillac Championship was staged through last year. McIlroy had thrown the club in anger during the second round.

Trump sent a scuba diver into the lake to retrieve it, and then presented it to McIlroy on the driving range prior to the final round.

That tournament has moved to Mexico City -- where McIlroy is scheduled to return next week. When the announcement was made last June that the event would be moved due to sponsorship issues, many believed the PGA Tour fled because of Trump's comments about Mexicans and women on the campaign trail. The PGA Tour has denied that this was the reason for the move.

Referring to Trump's campaign promise to build a wall separating Mexico from the U.S., McIlroy quipped at the time: "We'll just jump over the wall."