PGA Tour

Trump course stripped of WGC

2016-06-02 07:16
WGC logo (AFP)

Los Angeles - Donald Trump hit out angrily at the PGA Tour on Wednesday after the organisation confirmed that the WGC-Cadillac Championship would no longer be staged at his famed golf course at Doral in Florida.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem insisted the decision to stage the tournament in Mexico City from next year was driven by a failure to find a sponsor rather than politics.

However Finchem admitted that presumptive Republican US Presidential nominee Trump's larger-than-life profile created "difficulties" when it came to attracting a sponsor.

"Donald Trump is a brand, a big brand, and when you're asking a company to invest millions of dollars in branding a tournament and they're going to share that brand with the host, it's a difficult conversation," Finchem said.

"From a political point of view, we are neutral, PGA Tour has never been involved in presidential politics.

"The politics might have contributed some since he has been running, and he (Trump) knows that."

Finchem said the PGA Tour had explained the move to Trump on Tuesday.

"He is clearly disappointed that we are leaving," Finchem said.

Trump lashed the decision in a statement on Wednesday, comparing the PGA Tour to US companies who moved factories to Mexico to take advantage of cheaper labour.

"It is a sad day for Miami, the United States and the game of golf, to have the PGA Tour consider moving the World Golf Championships, which has been hosted in Miami for the last 55 years, to Mexico," Trump said.

"No different than Nabisco, Carrier and so many other American companies, the PGA Tour has put profit ahead of thousands of American jobs, millions of dollars in revenue for local communities and charities and the enjoyment of hundreds of thousands of fans who make the tournament an annual tradition.

"This decision only further embodies the very reason I am running for President of the United States."

Trump has attracted criticism for rhetoric used during his campaign, which has included describing Mexican immigrants to the United States "criminals and rapists" as well as a call to ban Muslims from entering the country.

Those remarks prompted the PGA of America to pull its Grand Slam of Golf from the Trump National Golf Club outside Los Angeles last year.

The PGA Tour's decision to pull the WGC event from Doral, famed for its "Blue Monster" course, came after title sponsor Cadillac chose not to renew its support after its deal ended this year.

That prompted the PGA Tour to look further afield, with Mexico City entering the fray after agreement of a seven-year deal with Grupo Salinas, an alliance of Mexico City-based companies from the retail, television, telecommunications and other business sectors.

"It's fundamentally a sponsorship issue," Finchem said of the move.

"The decision made here was based on the reality that we were not able to secure sponsorship for next year's WGC at Doral."

The tournament, held at Doral since 2007, will now be known as the WGC-Mexico Championship and held at an as yet to-be-announced facility from March 2-5, 2017, the PGA Tour said.

US reports said the tournament would take place from the Club de Golf Chapultapec outside Mexico City.

Trump had leaked the PGA Tour's decision in an interview on Fox News's Sean Hannity program, taking aim at Mexico's crime rate with a pointed barb.

"I hope they have kidnapping insurance," Trump said.

When asked about Trump's remarks, Finchem said a member of the PGA Tour staff had already confirmed the organisation did have kidnapping insurance.

"I haven't inquired about the detail," Finchem said. "But I made the point that maybe that's something we don't want to advertise."

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