Teeing up with Trump looks like another poor call from McIlroy

McIlroy's choices look much like Trump’s own calling card: reckless improvisation

When Rory falls down the rabbit hole, he doesn’t tumble like any other. These days Rory makes and lives in his own wonderland, where his loaded wallet and demigod golfing status gives him opportunity and position. But he just keeps tripping.

Golf with a US president, some adviser told him this week was pure gold, a photo op not to be dismissed. A round of golf with the commander in chief. Two masters of their own domain chumming up and back slapping around Trump International. Mar-a-Lago magic.

We had forgiven Rory’s poor judgment in previous masterstrokes of falling on his face. But not forgotten.

His ill judged shank with Caroline Wozniacki, where he issued the wedding invitations before hastily calling off the marriage, was an almost forgivable gaucheness, a thoughtless piece of cruelty exacted on, well who else, a woman.


An indifferent man doing what indifferent men do, Wozniacki’s dignity and poise after being so publicly left in the rough highlighted a frat boy streak of privilege and immaturity.

The break up actually improved his game, he said, declining to demur from further insult. As little as we know about the relationship, the optics were ugly.

For all that he was given a fool’s pardon.


But the Olympic Games didn’t come at Rory from the blindside the way he did at fiancée Caroline. That was a call where he initially drew kudos for making a hard decision and airing the notion of being ‘Northern Irish’ rather than Irish or British. We partied when he chose Ireland.

He walked a line everyone knew was difficult. But in his world, like that of president Trump, everything is what you need it to be because you surround yourself with people who tell you so.

And so it was Alice felt tired. Yawnnnn . . . she suddenly fell asleep in a seven star hotel in Dubai and woke up not at all wanting to go to Rio because of the Zika virus.

In Tiger's absence the poster boy of the sport said no after a 112-year absence from the Olympics. By then, June of last year, he had reloaded on the tee. Engaged to Erica Stoll he spoke of their plans to start a family.

Golf and its blue chip clientele may have more patience than the rest of the world with Rory's fourball choice

Doctor's advice was there was no problem with Zika. International Olympic Committee advice was there was no problem with Zika. Rio organiser's advice was there was no problem with Zika. The Irish Olympic team advice was there was no problem with Zika. Rory's advice was there was an insurmountable problem with Zika.

“My health and my family’s health come before anything else,” he said. No ‘at greater risk’ female Irish athletes pulled out of Rio. No athlete that attended the Rio Game contracted the Zika virus.

“I got into golf to win. I didn’t get into golf to get other people into the game,” he said. “I have no regrets. I’ll probably watch the Olympics. But I’m not sure golf will be one of the events I watch.”


Honesty some people called it, a welcome deviation from golf’s greatest disease, the bland stereotype. It was a misjudged comment, said others that belittled no one greater than the best golfer in the world. The thing was , Rory said recently, that it was never even about Zika in the first place.

Just months on and this week’s presidential wet towel slapping with little Rory wedged between the ursine Trump and his smiling crew seemed more seismically ill conceived and even with his wonderland lifetime pass, another misstep.

The eroding notion that off the golf course Rory stands for something may have gained momentum. More disturbing is that he deliberated long and hard and knew exactly how his decision twinned him with an over arching leader whose 'America First' slogan is less a proud declaration of national pride than an echo to the goose stepping politics of Charles Lindbergh and his fascination with a fascist Germany of the 1930s.

Golf and its blue chip clientele may have more patience than the rest of the world with Rory’s fourball choice as nothing that Trump has said since becoming president has changed the prospects of his Turnberry course hosting the Open Championship.

But the Grand Slam of Golf was moved from Trump National in Los Angeles, while the PGA Tour switched the WGC-Cadillac Championship from Trump National Doral to Mexico City from this year. The event was renamed the WGC-Mexico Championship and will be staged next week.

In a country of threatened boycotts and where corporate leaders are beginning to reconfigure what their relationship should be with an autocratic president, who has insulted women, Muslims, Nato, Mexico, the US judicial system, his intelligence agencies and the national press, Rory's choices have begun to look much like Trump's own calling card, reckless improvisation.

It’s just a round of golf. But for the 27-year-old it was a polarising decision, one trip down the rabbit hole he might have been better off avoiding.