May 17, 2020 / 10:16 PM / 15 days ago

Trump praises return of live golf, even without fans

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after arriving from Camp David to the White House in Washington, U.S. May 17, 2020. REUTERS/Eric Thayer/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump praised the return of live golf on Sunday, dialing into a televised broadcast of a two-on-two charity skins match between top players on the PGA Tour, the first event of its kind since the coronavirus lockdown.

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is from Northern Ireland, teamed up with Dustin Johnson of the United States to take on American duo Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff for the highly anticipated event, one of the few live pro sports competitions on a calendar otherwise upended by the deadly COVID-19 outbreak.

“It’s a wonderful thing to see,” Trump said on the NBC Sports broadcast. “I’m getting a little tired of watching 10-year-old golf tournaments where you know who won.”

Players at the Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida, adhered to social-distancing guidelines aimed at limiting the coronavirus spread, standing 6 feet (1.8 m) apart and carrying their own clubs, with no caddies allowed, on an empty course without the usual masses of eager fans.

An avid golfer, Trump has played rounds with current and former players including Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and four-time major winner McIlroy, who last week criticized the president’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

“We want to get sports back, we miss sports, we need sports in terms of the psyche, the psyche of our country and that’s what we’re going,” said Trump.

Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Peter Cooney

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