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Trump says golf stars 'are all great people' despite McIlroy blast

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Los Angeles (AFP)

Donald Trump doesn't expect to be teeing it up anytime soon with Rory McIlroy, who called out the US President earlier in the week for his controversial leadership.

McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the world, blasted his former golfing partner Trump on a podcast episode for his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Trump, an avid golfer, and McIroy played a round together three years ago in Florida.

"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, saying that (the United States) administers the most tests in the world like it's a contest," McIlroy said.

"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."

Asked on Sunday during a video link interview with NBC television how he felt about the criticism he sometimes receives from players, Trump said he doesn't expect them all to like him.

"A lot of them are very political. Some of them like my politics and some don't. The ones that don't, I don't see as much," Trump told NBC during the broadcast of a golf tournament in Florida that included McIlroy and three others playing for charity.

Trump isn't holding a grudge against players who are turned off by his abrasive style.

"I know so many of the tour players. I can't think of anyone I don't like and I can't say that in life. When you meet tour players they are all great people," Trump said.

The 31-year-old McIlroy was getting back into the swing of things Sunday with fellow pros Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff after a two month break due to the coronavirus pandemic.

They are shaking off the golf rust to raise money for Covid-19 relief and help introduce new safety guidelines from the PGA.

The event is a forerunner to the PGA's scheduled return in June with a tournament in Texas that will take place without spectators.

The Texas event will be followed by three other behind closed doors tournaments in which the players will be forced to undergo Covid-19 testing and temperature screenings.

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