PGA Tour Leaving Trump's Doral Golf Course For Mexico City

Jun 1, 2016
Originally published on June 1, 2016 6:24 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The PGA tour is moving a storied golf tournament out of Donald Trump's Doral resort near Miami. Trump broke the news last night during an interview on Fox News.

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DONALD TRUMP: They're moving it to Mexico. They're moving it to Mexico City, which by the way, I hope they have kidnapping insurance.

SHAPIRO: Today PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem confirmed the decision in a news conference carried on the Golf Channel. He said the move had nothing to do with Trump's politics and everything to do with sponsorship issues.

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TIM FINCHEM: 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.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Greg Allen joins us now from Miami. Hi, Greg.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Earlier the PGA Tour had explicitly distanced itself from Trump because of some of his political comments. Commissioner Finchem seems to be saying that has nothing to do with today's decision.

ALLEN: That's right. That's exactly kind of - that's the point he made today. But we - you, like me, probably remember in December when the Tour released a statement. This was after Donald Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. And the PGA Tour sent out a statement saying that his comments were, quote, "inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment," reading from that statement.

But today the PGA Tour commissioner said the only reason for moving the tournament was that after more than 50 years, the Doral Tournament wasn't able to find a sponsor. Cadillac last year told Doral it was pulling out, and that was before Trump's comments.

But after months of looking, the head of the tournament told the Miami Herald that Doral was simply unable to line up a new sponsor. The PGA's tour with Doral allowed them to move the tournament if they couldn't get a sponsor, and so today, Finchem said they're moving it to Mexico City.

SHAPIRO: Which is ironic given that Trump has promised to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

ALLEN: Right, and the PGA Tour Commissioner did not respond to that irony today. He said that the tour was working to broaden its appeal to people in Central America and South America, and that's reason for the move there. And of course, that's also where they found a sponsor - Grupos Salinas, which is a Mexican business conglomerate. They stepped forward to sponsor the tournament. And of course, since they're from Mexico, I think they wanted to base it down there.

But Commissioner Finchem said the PGA Tour likes working with Donald Trump and hopes to return to Doral at some point. They already have one event in Mexico at a beach resort near Cancun, so now this'll be a second one. The Golf Channel's reporting that the new event is going to be at the Chapultepec golf course just outside Mexico City. But Commissioner Finchem today said no final decision has been made on that.

SHAPIRO: Talk about the impact of this on Trump. We heard him saying he hopes that they have kidnapping insurance, and he has a lot of money invested in Doral.

ALLEN: Well, it is a big deal certainly when a course gets dropped from the PGA Tour after more than 50 years. I think it's 54 years, in this case. Trump bought the Doral resort just four years ago, and he got a lot of praise at the time for his renovations. Even today Commissioner Finchem talked about that. He spent some $250 million to re-do the golf courses.

But today Donald Trump released a statement calling it a sad day for Miami, the United States and the game of golf. He compared what the PGA Tour had done to American companies like Carrier and Nabisco, who he sometimes mentions in his speeches, who have moved jobs to Mexico. He says that the PGA Tour has put profits ahead of thousands of American jobs.

So he definitely sounds disappointed. But also in the past, he said that if the tour left he would make even more money at Doral because it would make more rooms available during the peak of the season.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Greg Allen on news that the PGA Tournament is leaving Trump's Doral golf course in Miami for Mexico. Thanks, Greg.

ALLEN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.