Not that he needed it, but Rory McIlroy had a Hall of Famer come to his defense Friday. Prior to going on the air to cover the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, Calif., Judy Rankin was asked about the unyielding criticism McIlroy has received for playing golf with President Donald Trump. Never one to shy away from her beliefs, Rankin was having none of it.
“Back in the dark ages, I did not agree with everything that Gerald Ford did,” Rankin said. “But I found him to be the most wonderful man and I certainly played golf with him. I can’t think of a (single) president that I agreed with everything (he did). No matter who is in office, what happened to saying, ‘They are the President of the United States?’ Because you play golf with them does not necessarily mean you support every single thing they do. But they hold the highest office in the land. I’m not sure that an invitation to play golf should be answered with a political statement.”
The tradition of pros playing with presidents dates to William Howard Taft, who played with 1899 U.S. Open champion Willie Smith, among others, while in office. More recently, Presidents Bush 41, Clinton and Obama all enjoyed the company of famous golf partners during their time in office. Only those who have played with President Trump have come under scrutiny.
This, in part, stems from the fact that the U.S. Women’s Open will be played at Trump Bedminster in New Jersey this coming July. Before the first shot of major championship golf has been struck, organizers already are lining up protests for the biggest event in women’s golf. A public relations firm is already contacting outlets such as The Post hoping to gin up publicity for the protests four months ahead of time.
RELATED STORY: McIlroy Criticized After Playing Golf With President Trump
“The U.S. (Women’s) Open at Bedminster was (locked in) long before the president was the president,” Rankin said. “There are so many things that go into a golf tournament at that level, a championship, to simply suggest that because part of our country either doesn’t like him or doesn’t like his politics, that the U.S. (Women’s) Open shouldn’t be there is really unfair. (People who suggest such) put people like the USGA and these players in a somewhat impossible position.
“No one knew when this was committed that Mr. Trump would even be in politics, for goodness sakes,” Rankin insisted. “So, I think there is an unreasonableness to this discord.”
RELATED STORY: Environmental Activists Vandalize Trump Golf Course