Jason Day (flu) withdraws from this week's Mexico Championship

The Northern Irishman had posted a statement on Twitter defending his decision and claimed he had been branded "a fascist and a bigot" for associating with the 45th President of the United States of America, who divides opinion in his homeland.

"It's been tough to miss all these weeks sitting at home, especially with those guys winning", said McIlroy.

"I don't agree with everything he says but it is what it is". I think he's out.

"I actually enjoyed myself". I've played golf with President Clinton, I've spent time with President Bush.

"I've travelled all over the world and have been fortunate enough to befriend people from many different countries, beliefs and cultures". Respect the office even if you don't respect the guy that's in it. To go there and see 30 secret service and 30 cops and snipers in the trees, it's just - I mean, it was just a surreal experience for me to see something like that.

"It's a bonus for him, it's a bonus for us, and it's a bonus for golf in general".

McIlroy is making his first appearance in seven weeks after suffering a fractured rib.

The 27-year-old's subsequent attempts to defend himself and his actions, via a Guardian interview and Twitter statement, have only served to earn him more criticism from those appalled by the incident and perceived attempt by all concerned to normalise Trump's unpopular policies.

Confronted by McIlroy's comments about playing 18 holes with the President, Sanders said the President "intended to play a few holes and made a decision to play longer".

Speaking at the World Golf Championship event in Mexico City (starting Friday AEDT), the Northern Irishman said teeing up at The Australian Golf Club from November 23-26 was unlikely.

McIlroy insists a return to the top of the rankings is not a priority as he makes his comeback, but is excited to be back in the running.

"There's going to be a point where we're going to have to move on", McIlroy said, "and golf has to live without Tiger". The picture also shows the CEO of Clear Sports, Garry Singer, and Paul O'Neill, the former New York Yankees right fielder, although No Laying Up says in its blog post that they were not a part of the grouping for the game.

"It's nice to have a chance and be in the conversation at least. It's tough, but I know that he's working hard to try and get back".

  • Joanne Flowers