Rory McIlroy was quick to point out the irony when asked for his opinion on the PGA Tour’s decision to leave Trump National Doral and move the World Golf Championship event to Mexico City starting next year.
“Well, they’re called the World Golf Championship for a reason,” said McIlroy in his presser ahead of The Memorial Tournament on Wednesday. “I always felt that having three of them in the United States wasn’t really spreading the game. So I think that’s good news, you’re getting at least one of those outside the States. And it’s not as if we haven’t been going to Mexico before.
“It’s quite ironic that we’re going to Mexico after being at Doral. We’ll just jump over the wall.”
Boom! Nice one, Rory! Of course, McIlroy is referring to comments made by presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump last summer when he kicked off his campaign, saying he was going to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, among other inflammatory remarks.
McIlroy voiced his support for the move, and better yet, the pros won’t have to worry about the Zika virus, either.
“I don’t know what they’re thinking of doing, but even if it was on the way back from the West Coast, sort of go from L.A. to Mexico and then back for Honda or something like that, it could work,” said McIlroy. “I’ll be going to Mexico next year, and I think it’s at a high enough altitude as well, I think. It’s 7,500 feet up there. So Zika and mosquitoes really isn’t a concern either.”
Here’s some more background information: The PGA Tour announced on Wednesday that the WGC event formerly held at Trump National Doral will move to Mexico City beginning next year, and will be renamed WGC-Mexico Championship. Cadillac ended its sponsorship of the tournament following this year’s event. On behalf of the International Federation of PGA Tours, Commissioner Tim Finchem secured a seven-year agreement through 2023 with Grupo Salinas, a collection of companies based in Mexico City primarily involved in retail, television, telecommunications and other businesses.
The Mexico Championship will be held at to-be-announced facility March 2-5, 2017. Though several outlets have reported that the venue will be Club de Golf Chaultapec.
Commissioner Finchem, who held a press conference at The Memorial on Wednesday afternoon, insists that the move has nothing to do with politics.
“As we anticipated, 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,” said Finchem. “It is fundamentally a sponsorship issue. We are a conservative organization. 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. And as a consequence, we pride ourselves on being a conservative organization…
“So 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. I had an involvement in presidential politics, but that was over 30 years ago, and this is not a political decision.”
Trump actually broke the news in an interview with Sean Hannity on Tuesday evening.
“They’re moving it to Mexico City, which, by the way, I hope they have kidnapping insurance,” said Trump, referring to the string of abductions of high-profile sportsmen.
Finchem understands the security concerns, but thinks the Tour will be adequately prepared.
“We’d like to think that, for a good number of years now, we take the cautious view, regardless of where we’re playing around the planet, you have some areas are more prone to terrorism and other places that are more prone to theft, and some places where you have people being kidnapped in very dangerous parts of the world. But like every other country, Mexico has dangerous areas and non-dangerous areas. Obviously, we have some in the United States.
“But when we look at Mexico — during my tenure, we have played — between us and the LPGA, we have played 70 events in Mexico, world cup, Champions Tour events, dot com or new PGA Tour Latino America. And of those 70 events, we’ve had two instances of issue, but — and if you compare that to — pretty much anywhere else we have on Tour, we have instances. We haven’t had a pattern of difficulty. But we have been careful.
“We have developed a good working relationship with the authorities in the communities where we play. We have taken precautions, and as we have gone about examining where we ought to be in Mexico and in the Mexico City area, we’ve paid a great deal of attention to that. I think we have an excellent security team.”
Trump released a formal statement on Wednesday.
“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 has been hosted in Miami for the last 55 years, to Mexico,” Trump said. “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.”
Trump claimed he had spoken with *all* of the top players about trying to pressure the Tour into keeping the event at Doral. McIlroy, for one, was not aware or a part of any such discussions with Trump. The world no. 3 is supportive of the Tour’s decision, reiterating that these series of events are called the *World* Golf Championships, but three of the four have been held in the United States (with the fourth being in China).
“I think one of the criticisms of the World Golf Championships is they weren’t global enough,” said McIlroy. “We have one in China, but apart from that…we haven’t really been spreading them around the globe as first planned, which makes sense. I mean, we play the majority of our golf around here, and I get that.
“But I think to go to Mexico City is a good move. I really think it is, for the World Golf Championships to sort of take it around the world, it’s a good thing.”