Ernie Els, South African golf’s favourite son, is not about to make any excuse for playing a round with controversial US president Donald Trump.
The four-time Major winner and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe were Trump’s guests at the Trump National Golf Club last week.
South Africans fumed on social media as details of Els’ fun with the president gradually started emerging.
One user said the 48-year-old wasn’t a “credible person any more” while another tweeted he “can’t even like my favourite golfer any more”.
But Els was emphatic in hitting back.
“A lot of my own friends were not for him. They kind of needled me a little bit, saying I was a suck-up,” he told the Wall Street Journal ahead of this week’s Genesis Open at Riviera.
“I just said, ‘Go eff yourself. I played with the President and you haven’t.’ You can’t please everybody. It was just golf and a good time.”
Earlier this week, Els also raved about how “impressive” Trump is.
“It was one of the most special groups of people I’ve been around,” said Els.
“I’ve played with the queen of Malaysia, I’ve played with other presidents, but this is the most powerful guy in the whole world and to see him in his full security detail, it’s impressive.”
Apparently, Els and Trump’s discussions revolved around the American president supporting the South African’s autism foundation.
Trump is a sponsor for the annual Els for Autism golf day.
Ironically, details of the round of golf were supposed to be kept a secret.
No media were allowed and a picture was even tweeted of the clubhouse’s windows being covered with plastic to obscure any view.
Els owns a house in Florida.