The PGA Tour has struck a seven-year deal to move its elite World Golf Championships event from the Donald Trump-owned Doral course in Miami to Mexico City, a decision blasted by the US Republican presidential candidate.
The tournament formerly known as the WGC-Cadillac Championship will no longer be staged at Doral after the Tour was unable to find a new title sponsor. The PGA Tour had held a contract with Doral through to 2023, but US automotive marque Cadillac, a division of General Motors, ended its support this year and no replacement could be found.
The former Cadillac Championship has been held at Trump National Doral since 2007, with Cadillac serving as the title sponsor since 2011. From 1999 through 2006, the tournament was held in Spain, Ireland and England as well as the US.
The tournament will now relocate to Mexico City and be renamed the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship, beginning in 2017. The seven-year agreement will run through the 2023 edition and has been struck with Grupo Salinas, a collection of companies based in Mexico City primarily involved in retail, television, telecommunications and other businesses. The inaugural event will be played from March 2-5 at a venue still to be determined.
Speaking at a news conference yesterday (Wednesday), PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem (pictured) stressed that the decision was not a political one. “The decision made here was based on the reality that we were not able to secure sponsorship for next year's WGC at Doral, or for other years for that matter,” he said.
“At the same time, we had an opportunity to build what we think is going to be a spectacular event in an area that is strategically important to the growth of the sport and the activity of the PGA Tour that has been focused in South America and Central America for the last good number of years.”
He added: “We are a conservative organisation. We value dollars for our players. We have a strong sense of fiduciary responsibility, so we make decisions that are in the best interests of our players, short term and long term. From a golf standpoint, we have no issues with Donald Trump. From a political standpoint, we are neutral. The PGA Tour has never been involved or cares to be involved in presidential politics … this is not a political decision.”
Trump’s presidential campaign has seen him promise to build a wall on the US-Mexican border, deport 11 million illegal immigrants and temporarily bar Muslims from entering the country. Ahead of the formal announcement of the deal, he said the PGA Tour’s decision echoed those of some US companies moving jobs to Mexico, which has also been a frequent claim during his presidential campaign.
“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 said in a statement. “This decision only further embodies the very reason I am running for president of the United States.”
Wednesday’s move by the PGA Tour came after the PGA of America in March decided to discontinue the PGA Grand Slam of Golf after last year’s edition of the tournament, which was due to take place on a course owned by Trump, was cancelled.
The 2015 PGA Grand Slam of Golf at Trump National in Los Angeles was scrapped following controversial comments from Trump about Mexican immigrants. The 36-hole exhibition tournament for the four Major champions of the year was established in 1979 and had been played annually since 1986 in destinations such as Chicago, California, Hawaii and Bermuda.