Rory McIlroy has hit out at Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, criticizing the US president of politicizing a pandemic that has claimed more than 85,000 American lives.

“We’re in the midst of something that’s pretty serious right now and the fact that he’s trying to politicize it and make it a campaign rally and say we’re administering the most tests in world like it is a contest – there’s something that just is terrible,” McIlroy said on the McKellar Golf podcast.

He added: “It’s not the way a leader should act. There’s a sort of diplomacy that you need to have, and I don’t think he’s showing that, especially in these times.”

The world No 1, who faced intense backlash after playing a round of golf with Trump shortly after he was inaugurated in 2017, admitted the president was “charismatic” and had an “X factor” but said he wouldn’t play with him again if asked.

“I don’t know if he’d want to play with me again after what I just said, but I wouldn’t [play with him again],” said McIlroy, who resides in the Florida town of Palm Beach not far from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. “I felt I would have been making more of a statement if I had turned it down. It was a round of golf and nothing more.”

The Northern Irishman is teaming with Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff to raise money for coronavirus charities with Sunday’s TaylorMade Driving Relief – a two-team skins challenge over 18 holes – at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach.

McIlroy will team up with Johnson against Fowler and Wolff, with up to $3m (£2.38m) going to the American Nurses Foundation and CDC Foundation. All four will follow strict physical-distancing measures and comprehensive testing will be used to protect players, TV staff and others at the course.

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