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Finchem: Dollars Spurred Doral Departure

By Ron Green, Jr. – Global Golf Post

DUBLIN, OHIO | The World Golf Championships got significantly more worldly with the announcement last week that the PGA Tour will not return to Trump National Doral, where it has been a fixture for 55 years.

It also feels like a politically careful move by the Tour, which now will be unattached to Doral owner Donald Trump and his controversial presidential bid.

Trump National Doral (photo en.wikipedia.org)

If you’re into irony, the fact the World Golf Championship event will move from Trump’s sparkling South Florida resort just a short trip from South Beach to Mexico City, well, it’s an interesting twist.

“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,” PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said during a news conference at the

Memorial Tournament last Wednesday announcing the seven-year deal for what will be called the WGC-
Mexico Championship.

wgc-cadillac-doral-logo“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 years out for that matter. 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 number of years.”

Finchem made a point of saying the Tour is “keen on coming back to Doral” and the Tour has had a good working relationship with Trump.

“From a golf standpoint, we have no issues with Donald Trump. From a political standpoint, we are neutral,” Finchem said.

From a sponsorship standpoint, it’s fair to assume the Tour found it difficult to align a company with Trump, at least in the current climate. Though the Tour had a contract to keep the event at Doral through 2023, it was contingent on landing a title sponsor. When Cadillac did not renew, the Tour instead made a deal with Grupo Salinas, a retail, television and telecommunications company run by Ricardo Salinas and his son, Benjamin.

Trump didn’t hide his disappointment about the move, which is believed to be worth approximately $12 million in annual sponsorship dollars.

“It is a sad day for Miami, the United States and the game of golf, to have the PGA Tour consider moving the World Golf Championships, which (along with its predecessor PGA Tour stop at Doral) has been hosted in Miami for the last 55 years, to Mexico,” Trump said in a statement. “No different than Nabisco, Carrier and so many other American companies, 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.

“This decision only further embodies the very reason I am running for President of the United States.”

The World Golf Championships have been criticized for being primarily U.S.-based tournaments. The HSBC Champions in Shanghai is the only WGC event played outside the United States this year. With the move to Mexico City, now two of the four WGC events will be played abroad.

“They’re called the World Golf Championships for a reason,” Rory McIlroy said. “I’ve always felt having three of them in the United States wasn’t really spreading the game. …

“It’s quite ironic that we’re going to Mexico after being at Doral. We just jump over the wall.”

By Ron Green, Jr., republished with permission from Global Golf Post