World number three Rory McIlroy says he was “taken aback” by the extent of the criticism he received for playing golf with US President Donald Trump.
McIlroy, who returns to the PGA Tour in Mexico this week after nearly two months out with a rib injury, says he was called “a fascist and a bigot”.
“It’s not as if we were talking foreign policy out there,” said the Northern Irishman. “We were talking golf.”
McIlroy also met Tiger Woods, and said the American was “in a good place”.
Former world number one Woods has been plagued by injury in recent years, and has not played since pulling out of the second round of February’s Dubai Desert Classic because of back spasms.
McIlroy said the 41-year-old could still play in the Masters – which he has won four times – in April.
“It’s a possibility,” said McIlroy, who had lunch with Woods last week. “Mentally, he’s in a good place.
“He struggled with his body over the past couple years and it’s unfortunate because it just won’t allow him to do what he wants to do.”