By Frank Pingue
AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy received plenty of criticism for golfing with U.S. President Donald Trump this year and on Tuesday the Northern Irishman said he would "think twice" before accepting a second invitation.
World No. 2, McIlroy, who will launch his bid to complete the career grand slam of golf's four majors at this week's U.S. Masters, has said playing with Trump was not to be confused with an endorsement.
"It's a difficult one," McIlroy, 27, said at a news conference at Augusta National. "I felt I would have been making more of a statement if I had of turned it down. It's not a tough place to be put in but it was a round of golf and nothing more.
"Would I do it again? After the sort of backlash I received, I'd think twice about it."
McIlroy, a four-times major champion, has previously said he was called a "fascist" and "bigot" for accepting the invitation to play 18 holes with the president at Trump International Golf Club in Florida in February.
The former world No. 1 said on Tuesday that he was not interested in talking politics with Trump but rather in taking in the scene that accompanies him.
"Whenever an invitation or a request comes my way, I don't want to say I jump at the chance but at the same time, you know, to see the Secret Service, to see the scene, I mean, that's really what I was going for," McIlroy said.
"I mean, there was not one bit of politics discussed in that round of golf. He was more interested talking about the grass that he just put on the greens."
(Editing by Bill Trott)