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White House issues statement on Donald Trump's golf day after McIlroy's comments cause confusion

By Claire Williamson

The White House has issued a statement after Rory McIlroy's comments about his round of golf with Donald Trump appeared to contradict its official line.

The world number two is recovering from a rib stress fracture and hasn't swung a club since January 15 when he lost a play-off to Graeme Storm in the South African Open.

But on Saturday night he got the call to join the president at his Trump International golf course in south Florida.

And while he hadn't planned on playing again until the following weekend, McIlroy made the exception for the world's most powerful man.

According to the No Laying Up golf blog, the four-time Major winner rode in the cart for all 18 holes with the president. Speaking afterwards McIlroy said: "He probably shot around 80. He's actually a decent player for a guy in his 70s."

However, the official line from the White House had been that Trump had only played a few holes, which reporters were told on Sunday during a briefing.

On Monday White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders aimed to clarify how it came about.

She said in a statement: “As stated yesterday (Sunday) the president played golf. He intended to play a few holes and decided to play longer.

“He also had a full day of meetings, calls and interviews for the new NSA (national security advisor), which he is continuing today (Monday)  before returning to Washington, D.C. tonight.”

A picture of the foursome was posted on Twitter by ClearSports showing its chief executive Garry Singer alongside former New York Yankee Paul O'Neill with McIlroy and Trump.

However, the news of the round of golf did not go down well with some of McIlroy's fans.

Dermot Looney, an independent socialist councillor on South Dublin County Council, wrote: "I've no problem with @McIlroyRory choosing to stay out of Northern politics. But playing in his free time with Trump *IS* a political choice.

"I quite like Rory actually.

"But there was no need for this IMHO (in my humble opinion)."

Irish football commentator and broadcaster Nathan Murphy said he was "pretty shocked that Rory agreed to play with Trump".

Noting that Rory was injured, he added that the Co Down star "had a perfect excuse to dodge it".

"Massive error of judgment," he added.

This is not the first time McIlroy has met Mr Trump.

They had a memorable encounter in 2015 at the Cadillac Championship at the Blue Monster course at Trump National Doral in Miami.

However, the Holywood golfer flung his club into the water in frustration at how poorly he was playing.

Trump hired a diver to recover the club, and the tycoon later presented it back to McIlroy.

Previously Trump panned former US President Barack Obama when he frequented the golf course.

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