Golf

PGA Tour commissioner evasive on future of WGC tournament in Doral

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump talks with golfer Rory McIlroy on the driving range as he prepares for the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral in Miami, Florida, on Sunday, March 6, 2016.
Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump talks with golfer Rory McIlroy on the driving range as he prepares for the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral in Miami, Florida, on Sunday, March 6, 2016. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

There was plenty of speculation going on Sunday during the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral.

▪ Speculation about which of the world’s best golfers would win the tournament. Adam Scott ended that speculation with a one-shot triumph.

▪ Speculation about whether presidential candidate Donald Trump would drop in via helicopter to watch the event. Trump ended that speculation by showing up and mingling with the crowd — well, mingling as much as the Secret Service would allow him.

▪  And, finally, speculation about the future of the tournament and the possibility the event might leave Doral and South Florida. That was the one speculation that was left unanswered and unresolved, even after PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem addressed the tournament’s future in a wide-ranging interview on Sunday.

Adam Scott is greeted by Donald Trump after Scott won the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral on March 6, 2016.

“I think a question came up recently that led us to point out … that we would be looking at options going forward, which may have read to a lot of people like we were trying to end our relationship here, which is not the case,” Finchem said.

Then came Finchem’s tack-on comment in the opposite direction: “We are, like we do any week, carefully evaluating the performance of the tournament.”

Two areas of particular concern for the PGA Tour: 1. The outspoken Trump, who owns the Blue Monster course the tournament is played on and also owns the resort it is played at. 2. The likely loss of Cadillac as the tournament’s title sponsor.

Since Trump announced his campaign for the presidency, the relationship between him and the PGA Tour and other golf organizations has at times been tenuous — to put it mildly.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke with the media after arriving at Trump National Doral for Sunday's final round of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.

Finchem tried to explain that the PGA Tour does not want to get involved in politics.

“The only thing we commented on was the fact that he [Trump] intimated … made it sound like we just broadly supported anything he says on an issue or a criticism or whatever. All we were saying was we asked him that he not categorize us as taking a position on any issue, because we’re not.

“We [the PGA Tour and Trump] have a relationship and he happens to be running for president, but we are not involved in presidential politics.”

Because Trump and Finchem were both at the tournament Sunday, they agreed to an afternoon meeting.

“I suspect it will be positive,” Finchem said.

Did Finchem plan to divulge what the results of that meeting would be?

“No, I don’t think so, unless something strange happens,” he said with a smile.

Of him and Trump getting along, Finchem said, “I think our relationship is good.”

The other area of concern for the tournament staying in Doral is sponsorship.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump talks with golfer Rory McIlroy Sunday, March 6, 2013, at the WGC Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral in Miami.

Cadillac’s role as the title sponsor ended with Sunday’s event.

“General Motors, which has been our sponsor for over 50 years, is contracted just through this week,” Finchem said.

It is generally assumed that sponsorship will not be renewed, although Finchem said, “We are looking to get an answer from them in the short-term as to whether they are going to continue.

“So, we conceivably would have a sponsorship question arising, and a lot of these things need to be nailed down.”

Finchem expressed appreciation of the 50-plus years a Doral golf tournament has been a part of the community, and said that could factor into an ultimate decision.

“We’re very cognizant of the history here,” he said. “We’re also very cognizant of our relationships to the community.

“If you look back to the last 30 years, we have moved out of markets before but not very often. And usually we look on the situation as to how can we improve it. We’re not looking to leave.

“Having said that, we have to have sponsorship to conduct a tournament.

“Our hope is the future could allow us to stay here and continue to build the tournament.”

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