Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, reacts to a political question during a news conference at the Cadillac Championship golf tournament, Wednesday, March 2, 2016, in Doral, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Wilfredo Lee
March 02, 2016

DORAL, Fla. (AP) Rory McIlroy used three words to try to diffuse a question about Donald Trump's presidential campaign and how it affects a World Golf Championship played at a Trump-owned golf course.

''I'm not American,'' McIlroy said as the room broke into laughter and some applause.

McIlroy, the 26-year-old from Northern Ireland, knows all about the distractions Trump can cause even when politics aren't involved. A year ago, McIlroy slung his 3-iron into the water left of the eighth hole out of frustration. Trump hired divers to fish it out, and the practice range on Sunday morning at Trump National Doral became a sideshow when Trump presented the 3-iron to McIlroy.

Now it's about politics. A local news reporter asked a 72-word question that McIlroy handled with ease. The reporter followed with more generic questions about whether the political ''shenanigans'' would be a distraction.

''He's not going to be the leader of my country,'' McIlroy said, drawing more laughs. ''Look, it really doesn't bother me too much. I've been following it. I really thought I knew what politics were until I started to watch some of these presidential debates. I mean, not saying that the political system in Northern Ireland is too strong at the moment either. It is ... it's shocking.

''Look, I can't vote,'' he said. ''And if I were to vote, I'm not sure I would want to vote for any of the candidates.''

McIlroy's primary residence is about 90 minutes north in Jupiter.


TIGER'S ADVICE: Jason Day began the first big stretch of the season by getting on the Tiger hotline.

Tiger Woods was his idol growing up in Australia, and they have become friendly in recent years through practice rounds. Day said he called Woods for advice on balancing his family life and developing a winning instinct on the golf course. He said the conversation lasted about 50 minutes.

''Every time that I talk to him, it's mindset, mental, mental toughness, effort,'' Day said. ''It didn't matter how bad it was. If it was a course that he did not like, he was just going to flat-out execute. That's that killer instinct that I need to get back like I had at the second half of last year, get back and take it into this year and go through with it.''

Day reached No. 1 in the world late last year during a run in which he won four times in six starts, including a record score to par at the PGA Championship. He was at No. 1 twice for a total of four weeks. Jordan Spieth took it back and has kept it since November.

Day is not worried about his slow start. He took three months off at the end of last year and has played just three times this year. He has finished a combined 23 strokes behind at Kapalua and Pebble Beach, and he missed the cut while ill at Torrey Pines.

He said the killer instinct is still him, ''it just hasn't come out yet.'' And that's one reason he called Woods.

''Once it does, I'm hoping that I can replicate the second half of last year,'' he said. ''But it's amazing to be able to talk to someone that's done it for so long, because he did it for 14, 15 years of just absolutely dominating and killing it. If there's a better person to talk to about it, that was him.''


WILLET'S DILEMMNA: Danny Willett made his Masters debut last year and tied for 38th, part of a breakthrough year for the Englishman. He won in Switzerland and finished second to Rory McIlroy in the Race to Dubai on the European Tour.

Getting back to the Masters this year, however, might be a problem. Willett already is eligible - he is No. 15 in the world.

His wife is also pregnant and due the week of Augusta National.

''All depends on how our little man is faring,'' he said. ''If he fancies coming out early on, it would be great. But if not, I won't be playing.''

Willett said if his son was born early, he would fly to Augusta even if he didn't arrive until the day before the Masters started.

''It's one of the golf tournaments you don't really want to miss,'' he said. ''Playing last year, I've still got my books, all my notes. So if it's a last-minute jaunt there, it would still be awesome. So hopefully, we can be on a plan there this year.''

Asked if he would leave the Masters if he had a 10-shot lead on the weekend, Willett said that could never happen.

''If she's not given birth, I'll not go,'' he said. ''There's plenty more Masters.''


DIVOTS: Hunter Mahan, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood are among those who failed to qualify for the Cadillac Championship this year. There were not among the money leaders on either the PGA or European Tours and are out of the top 50 in the world. Donald had played the last 12 years. Poulter had not missed this event since 2004. Westwood has played 12 of the last 13 years. Mahan had played at Doral every year since 2008. ... Only 13 players in the 66-man field played Doral before it became a World Golf Championship in 2007.

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