MIAMI: Doral owner Donald Trump, the US presidential contender, looms large over this week’s World Golf Championships Cadillac Championship, where the world’s three top players meet in a showdown starting Thursday (Friday in Manila).
Top-ranked Jordan Spieth, the reigning Masters and US Open champion, is joined by Australia’s Jason Day, last year’s PGA Championship winner, and four-time major champion Rory McIlroy in the first event since last September to feature all three stars.
It’s also the first PGA event at a Trump property since the start of his candidacy, which has included insults aimed at Mexicans, Muslims, military veterans, women and his tepid rebuke of support from the former leader of the racist Ku Klux Klan which has upset African-Americans.
Trump’s insulting comments about Mexican immigrants last year led the PGA of America to cancel the PGA Grand Slam of Golf rather than play as originally planned on a Trump course in Los Angeles.
“We continue to stand by our earlier statement, and the statement of other golf organizations, that Mr. Trump’s comments are inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf,” the PGA said.
But the 2022 PGA Championship has been scheduled for a Trump layout in New Jersey, what would be his first property to host a major tournament, and the same course would host the 2017 US Women’s Open. Trump National in Washington is set to host next year’s Senior PGA Championship.
Rory: ‘Not sure I would vote for any’
Trump is the front-runner for the Republican Party nomination for US President and he is expected to appear Sunday at the WGC event to present the winner’s trophy.
Northern Ireland’s McIlroy, 26, was not so worried about the political concerns over Trump, whose success on “Super Tuesday” bolstered his overall lead with more races Saturday and Florida going to the polls March 15.
“I’m not American,” McIlroy said. “He’s not going to be the leader of my country so it doesn’t bother me.
“I can’t vote and if I could I’m not sure I would for any of the candidates.”
While course workers have prepared the layout the past few months, Trump has been a television fixture in campaign appearances and debates.
“I thought I knew politics until I started watching these debates,” McIlroy said.
Trump bought Doral in 2012 and spent $250 million renovating the resort, including the Blue Monster course, bringing more water into play and boosting benefits for the long-ball striker while sparking complaints from others.
Trump’s critical comments could provide costly for Doral as automaker title sponsor Cadillac is not renewing its deal after this season and any new sponsor would have the right to move the tournament to another course.