JERSEY CITY: The Presidents Cup golf matches tee off in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty on Thursday (Friday in Manila) amid a backlash against US President Donald Trump’s criticism of social protests in sport.
Zimbabwe’s Tony Johnstone, an assistant to International team captain Nick Price, said Monday that International players are focused on their bid for an upset victory, and don’t want to be drawn into any political fray.
“It’s got absolutely bugger all to do with us. And I don’t think we’re in a position really to talk about it,” Johnstone said, adding that players drawn from countries around the globe had discussed it and agreed.
“We’re here as sportsmen. We don’t want to get inveigled in any political discussion,” Johnstone, 61, said. “You’ve got to be careful … It’s an American thing. Americans will take care of it somehow whatever happens.”
A wave of protests swept across the National Football League on Sunday after Trump escalated his feud with players who kneel during the US national anthem to draw attention to racial injustice.
Trump’s decision not to receive the NBA champion Golden State Warriors at the White House — after jabs from star Stephen Curry and others — also sparked criticism.
US PA Tour player Peter Malnati pulled the issue into the conservative golf world with a tweet in support of the NFL protests.
“Those who kneel during the national anthem aren’t disrespecting the heroes who sacrificed to defend the United States,” wrote Malnati, who won his lone PGA Tour title at the Sanderson Farms Championship last year. “Those who kneel are pointing out that as a nation, we are not doing a good job of upholding the values for which people sacrificed.”
Malnati also took aim at Trump himself, saying the current administration “has made it very clear they don’t want the United States to be a nation that cares for those on the margins of society.”
But Malnati, ranked 641st in the world, isn’t among the elite gathered this week for the 12th edition of the Ryder Cup-style match play event.