The “Blue Monster” course at the Doral Golf Resort in Miami’s suburbs is one of the signature locales on the PGA Tour, hosting a tournament each year since 1962. A staple of the tour’s early season Florida swing, the tournament—sponsored by various corporations over the years, but most recently Cadillac—was elevated in 2007 to a World Golf Championship event (the tier below the sport’s four annual majors). But the PGA Tour is set to announce on Wednesday that it will move the tournament in 2017, reportedly due to its inability to find a new corporate sponsor. Why might such a storied event have trouble finding a sponsor?
It may have something to do with one Donald Trump, who bought Doral in 2012 and is now a toxic entity from whose brand corporations have been fleeing for the better part of a year.
Oh, and the PGA Tour is moving the tournament to … Mexico. Yup.
Though Cadillac’s sponsorship contract was ending, and it reportedly had little interest in renewing regardless of Trump, it’s less clear why no one would pick up the slack. “Losing a title sponsor, whether of a sporting venue or event these days, defines common,” reports the Miami Herald, which confirmed the story Wednesday morning. “Being unable to replace one, especially for a popular golf tournament with international reach and a half-century of history, defines uncommon.”
Trump himself was apparently tipped off to the news on Tuesday night. “I just heard that the PGA Tour is taking their tournament out of Miami and moving it to Mexico,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “They’re moving it to Mexico City which, by the way, I hope they have kidnapping insurance.”
The Trump campaign released a more 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. 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.
It was controversial enough in March when the PGA Tour went through with the WGC event at Doral after a healthy nine months of Trump’s presidential controversies. (NBC Sports, which airs the tournament and in recent years had played up the Trumpification of Doral as a cross-promotion for Celebrity Apprentice, barely seemed to mention Trump’s ownership of the property this time around.) As Paul Haney wrote in Slate before the tournament began this year, Trump had put a lot of money into refurbishing golf courses like Doral, and golf’s leading bodies had clasped hands with him.
Back in March, Haney predicted that “major tours will disavow Trump’s most outrageous statements while finding ways to justify playing on his courses.” That stance made sense when Trump’s fancy courses brought in a fat pile of sponsorship dollars. Without a corporate sponsor for Doral, Trump is no longer golf’s savior. He’s a friend the PGA Tour can’t afford to keep.