PGA Tour moves longstanding event from Trump-owned course to Mexico City
Commissioner insists move is financially-motivated but allows that "politics may have contributed"
Cross-border migration has long gotten presumptive Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump hot under the collar – and in this particular instance more so than most.
The PGA Tour is moving a key tour date away from a course owned by the reality TV show star, golf resort developer and real estate billionaire – and relocating it to Mexico.
Trump broke the news himself, on Fox News anchor Sean Hannity’s show, getting in a few customary digs about the decision.
“I just heard that the PGA Tour is taking their tournament out of Miami and moving it to Mexico,” he said. “They’re moving it to Mexico City – which, by the way, I hope they have kidnapping insurance. But they’re moving it to Mexico City. And I’m saying, you know, what’s going on here? It’s so sad when you look what’s going on with our country.”
PGA Tour moves tournament from Trump golf course to Mexico
In a statement released later, he added: “It is a sad day for Miami, the United States and the game of golf to have the PGA Tour consider moving (from Doral) to Mexico. No different than Nabisco, Carrier and so many other American companies, the PGA Tour has put profit ahead of thousands of American jobs.”
Mexico has been a focal point for Trump’s grievances since the very beginning of his presidential campaign, when he told supporters that illegal immigrants from the country were “rapists” who were “bringing drugs” into the U.S.
He has subsequently promised numerous times to build a border wall, which he insists he will be able to get Mexico to pay for. His latest run-in with Mexicans came as he pointedly noted the ethnicity of the judge presiding over a lawsuit related to Trump University.
During a campaign stump where he demanded the judge, Gonzalo Curiel, recuse himself, Trump said that the judge – who is of Mexican heritage but was born in Indiana – was a “Mexican.” He then added, “I think that’s fine.”
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The World Golf Championship tournament – a top-tier event second only in prominence to the sport’s four annual majors – has been held at Miami’s Doral resort since the 1960s, but will be moved to the Mexican capital in 2017, to a course to be confirmed, and renamed the WGC-Mexico Championship.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem insisted that the decision was a financial one, and not related to Trumps’ political ambitions.
“Some of the reaction revolves around the feeling that this is political exercise, and it is not that in any way, shape or form,” Finchem said during a press conference.
“The decision here was based on the reality that we are not able to secure sponsorship for next year’s WGC at Doral or for years out for that matter.”
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At least some of the tour players seemed to be on board with relocating the Championship event. “We’ve been at Doral (since 1962), and it’s been a special place for the PGA Tour,” former Doral winner Phil Mickelson said.
“But it does offer an opportunity to take a World Golf Championship outside the United States and bring world-class golf to Mexico City.”
Rory McIlroy, the Northern Irish four-time major winner, also supported the move saying: “They’re called ‘World’ Golf Championships for a reason,” alluding to the U.S.-centric nature of the series.
After being dropped by automotive maker Cadillac, the event will now be sponsored by Grupo Salinas, a retail, media and communications conglomerate based in Mexico City.
Finchem did add that relocating the event would present a vital opportunity in a growth market for the American golf body.
“At the same time, we had an opportunity to build what we think is going to be a spectacular event in an area that is strategically important to the growth of the sport and the activity of the PGA Tour that has been focused in South America and Central America for the last good number of years.”
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The commissioner took a conciliatory tone with the brash candidate, insisting that Trump had been a “most gracious host” since taking over the property in 2012 and was “committed” to renovating the famous Blue Monster course, upon which the event is held.
“The PGA Tour has had a wonderful history in greater Miami and at Trump National Doral and we remain interested in returning when the time is right,” Finchem added.
However, he appeared to later concede that Doral’s owner’s personality may have made it difficult to find new sponsorship.
“Donald Trump is a brand – a big brand – and when you are asking a [sponsor] to invest millions of dollars in branding a tournament and they’re going to share that brand with a host… it’s a difficult conversation,” the Washington Post reported him as saying.
“The politics may have contributed some since he’s been running.”
Others were more unrestrained with their political observations.
“It’s quite ironic that we’re going to Mexico after being at Doral,” McIlroy said. “We just jump over the wall.”