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Irish professional golfer Rory McIlroy is distancing himself from President Trump after receiving criticism for golfing with the president at Mar-a-Lago last week.

“I don’t agree with everything my friends or family say or do, but I still play golf with them,” McIlroy wrote in a statement posted to Twitter on Friday. “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 nor a political statement of any kind. It was, quite simply, a round of golf. Golf was our common ground, nothing else.”

“I’ve travelled all over 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,” McIlroy added. “I hope, to some degree, this clarifies my decision to accept the invitation that was extended to me.”

The 27-year-old member of both the European and PGA Tours played golf over the weekend with Trump and former MLB player Paul O’Neill. The White House had initially said Trump played a “few holes” of golf, but corrected itself later after McIlroy wrote that they had played 18 holes.

McIlroy lives in Ireland, but also has a residence in Palm Beach, which could be one reason the administration reached out to him as a golf partner for Trump.

“He probably shot around 80. He’s a decent player for a guy in his 70s,” McIlroy said about Trump.



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