And of all places, the event’s new location, effective in 2017, will be Mexico. But the Tour said the move wasn’t political, just that it had to be made to secure sufficient sponsorship dollars. “I hope they have kidnapping insurance,” Donald Trump said in reacting to the announcement.
The PGA Tour announced on June 1 that it will move its 2017 World Golf Championship (WGC)-Cadillac tournament from the Trump National Doral golf course in Miami to a location in Mexico, CNN reported. The Tour said the move was made after it was unable to line up enough sponsorship dollars to continue to hold the tournament at Doral, which has hosted it since 2007, dating back to before it was purchased by the Trump organization.
In making the announcement, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said Trump was a “most gracious host” and that the Tour is “interested in returning when the time is right,” CNN reported.
The tournament, which is one of four pro WGC events that have been held since 1999, is also being renamed as part of the move, CNN reported. It will now be called the WGC-Mexico Championship and will be held in 2017 from March 2-5. The course where it will be held was not specified.
Finchem said the move was a part of a goal to “conduct [WGC] tournaments around the world,” CNN reported. The WGC event has also been held in Spain, Ireland and England. The new partners, Grupo Salinas, have signed a seven-year deal, which will last through 2023. Cadillac has sponsored the event since 2011.
The PGA Tour didn’t comment on why it selected Mexico as the newest host country for the tournament.
In December, CNN noted, Tour officials seemed more critical of Trump, suggesting that they might find a new home for the event after Trump made disparaging comments about Mexicans and suggested banning Muslims from the U.S.
A statement that the Tour issued at that time said Trump’s “comments are inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf,” CNN noted. The Tour also said then that after this year’s tournament was held at Doral in March, it would “explore all options regarding the event’s future.”
The PGA, a separate organization, pulled one of its golf tournaments from a Trump-owned golf course near Los Angeles in July 2015.
According to several news reports, Trump compared the move to “Nabisco, Carrier and so many other American companies” that have moved jobs out of the U.S, CNN reported.
“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,” Trump reportedly said. “This decision only further embodies the very reason I am running for President of the United States.”
During an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, CNN reported, Trump mentioned the move to Mexico while saying he would bring jobs back to the U.S. He said the move was just another sign of how “sad” the country has become.
“I hope they have kidnapping insurance,” Trump added.
In writing about the move, the Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard noted that The Tour signed a 10-year extension with Trump in 2013 to remain at Doral, but that agreement stipulated that if the circuit couldn’t round up a title sponsor to replace Cadillac, then it had the right to move the World Golf Championship elsewhere.
Hoggard also noted that Doral has hosted a Tour event of some kind since 1962.
Finchem’s previous political experience as a deputy advisor to President Jimmy Carter in the office of economic affairs in the late 1970s seems to have influenced his decision to move the tournament from Doral, Hoggard added, despite Finchem’s statement that “From a political standpoint, we are neutral—the PGA Tour has never been involved or cares to be involved in presidential politics.”
“Some of the reaction revolves around the feeling that somehow this is a political exercise, and it is not that in any way, shape, or form,” Finchem said at a press briefing held before the Memorial Tournament started at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio this week. “It is fundamentally a sponsorship issue. We are a conservative organization. We value dollars for our players. We have a strong sense of fiduciary responsibility.”
Hoggard added, however, that Finchem may have to reassess his position if Trump is elected, noting that “whoever wins the election will have a healthy amount of influence over the Tour,” and citing the comment made by Rory McIlroy earlier this year that “if [Trump] is president, it would be silly for the Tour not to keep some sort of relationship with him.”