The Donald Trump-owned golf course in Miami that has hosted a storied professional golf tournament for the past 55 years lost that event Wednesday when the PGA Tour announced it was moving its elite World Golf Championship out of South Florida. Beginning in 2017, the tournament will be played instead in — of all places — Mexico City.
The move highlighted the uneasy relationship between the sport of golf and the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, an avid golfer who has spent much of the past decade building a golf empire that includes some of the most coveted properties in the world. Some of golf’s governing bodies have moved to distance themselves from Trump since he made controversial remarks about Mexicans and Muslims.
At a news conference Wednesday, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem initially said the move was not “a political exercise” but a financial one, prompted by the decision by Cadillac not to renew its title sponsorship of the tournament. Later, however, Finchem said, “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 politics may have contributed some since he’s been running.”
Trump apparently broke the news himself Tuesday night during an appearance on Fox News, telling host Sean Hannity, “I just heard that the PGA Tour is taking their tournament out of Miami and moving it to Mexico. . . . 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.”
On Wednesday, Trump released a statement calling the move “a sad day for Miami, the United States and the game of golf.”
Trump purchased the Doral Resort and Spa — which had held a tour event every year since 1962 — out of bankruptcy in 2012 and rebranded it Trump National Doral Miami, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into renovating the property and redesigning the signature Blue Monster tournament course. In 2013, he signed a 10-year deal with the PGA Tour to keep the tournament there, although the tour had an out clause in the event of a title-sponsor change.
After Cadillac’s decision last year not to renew its sponsorship contract following the 2016 tournament, the tour spent a year searching for a new title sponsor, Finchem said. That became increasingly difficult after Trump announced he was running for the Republican presidential nomination, claiming many Mexicans were “criminals, drug dealers, rapists” and vowing to build a wall to keep Mexicans out of the United States.
Asked about the decision to end its title sponsorship, Eneuri Acosta, a spokesman for Cadillac, said in an email, “We thank the PGA Tour for a great six years” with the tournament. Acosta did not respond to a question regarding Trump.
The tour previously warned of a potential move from the Trump property, saying in a statement in December — not long after Trump called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States — that those remarks “were inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf. . . . Immediately after the conclusion of the [March] 2016 tournament, we will explore all options regarding the event’s future.”
This isn’t the first time Trump has lost a golf tournament over his controversial stances. Last summer, the PGA of America announced it was moving the Grand Slam of Golf — contested in October — out of a Trump-owned course in Los Angeles. However, the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open and Senior PGA Championship both remain on track to be played at Trump properties — the latter at the Trump National Golf Club of Washington, D.C., in Sterling, Va. The 2022 PGA Championship is scheduled to be played at Trump’s club in Bedminster, N.J.
As for the former WGC-Cadillac Championship, the new tour event, christened the WGC-Mexico Championship, will be played at the Club de Golf Chapultepec outside of Mexico City.
“It’s quite ironic we’re going to Mexico after being at Doral,” Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, the world’s third-ranked golfer, said at a news conference Wednesday. “We’ll just jump over the wall.”