President Donald Trump said the return of sport would be good for the nation’s “psyche” as he praised a live charity golf event on Sunday.
The TaylorMade Driving Relief team game was contested between four of the sport’s top players with Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson defeating Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff at the Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida.
The competition raised more than $5 million for coronavirus relief charities and also marked the return of live televised golf.
No spectators were allowed in to watch the match and players completed the course without caddies.
Trump, a lifelong golf fan, dialed into NBC’s coverage to say he hoped sport would be returning to normality as soon as possible.
The US currently has 1,486,742 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 89,564 deaths, according to the latest figures.
“We want to get sports back, we miss sports, we need sports in terms of the psyche of our country,” he said.
“We really want to see it get back to normal. So when you have all those thousands, tens of thousands of people going to your majors and going to golf tournaments, we want them to have that same experience.
“We don’t want them to be having to wear masks and, you know, be doing what we’ve been doing for the last number of months.”
World number one McIlroy has previously played golf with Trump but last week said he would decline a future invitation after the way the President had tried to “politicize” the pandemic.
“He’s trying to politicize it and make it a campaign rally, saying that (the US) administers the most tests in the world like it’s a contest,” he told the McKellar Golf Podcast.
“It’s just not the way a leader should act and there is a bit of diplomacy that you need to show, and I just don’t think he’s shown that, especially in these times.”
Trump did not respond directly to the Northern Irishman but said he enjoyed getting to know a number of professional golfers.
“A lot of them are very political. Some like my politics very much and some don’t. The ones that don’t I don’t get to see as much,” he said.
The recent event comes ahead of another charity golf match this Sunday when Tiger Woods and Payton Manning take on Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady in what’s being dubbed, ‘The Match: Champions for Charity.’
The event is being organized jointly by the PGA Tour and WarnerMedia (the parent company of CNN) and will be a rematch of the televised clash back in 2018 between Woods and Mickelson.