Jersey City (United States) (AFP) – The Presidents Cup could have a presidential audience on Sunday as tournament officials said US President Donald Trump is considering attending.
Trump’s appearance isn’t definite, but a PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said a Trump team has “been out and taken a good, hard look at the property and worked closely with our team” at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey.
“We are thinking that he is going to come out, but he has not yet confirmed,” Monahan said.
Trump is slated to travel this weekend to his home at Trump National Bedminster, some 30 miles away.
In July, Trump was greeted by both well-wishers and antagonists when he attended the US Women’s Open in Bedminster, watching part of the third round from a glass-enclosed viewing area at the 15th hole.
Activists angered by Trump’s comments about women during his presidential campaign had urged the US Golf Association to move the tournament, which was awarded the property years before his presidential bid.
This week, the US sports world has been roiled by Trump’s bitter criticism of National Football League players who decline to stand for the national anthem in protest at racial inequality.
As players, coaches and even some owners across the league responded to Trump’s barbs with shows of solidarity, the issue spilled over into other sports.
Steve Stricker, captain of the US Presidents Cup team taking on an International team in the biennial match play contest, said he and his players had discussed the matter and opted to recognize the anthem in the traditional way — standing with caps off and hands on hearts.
But the issue has hovered over the tournament, with 14-time major champion Tiger Woods, an assistant to Stricker this week, saying he hoped current tensions could lead to “progress as a nation”.
Former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are expected to be in attendance on Thursday for the opening tee shot.
“I think there’s a remarkably cool aspect to it, to have three former presidents standing on the first tee tomorrow to kick off the Presidents Cup,” Monahan said, adding that he’d be “excited” to have Trump attend as well.
“We hope he comes and he’ll be welcomed by us and our players,” Monahan said, adding that the tournament is not political.
“This is a non-partisan event,” Monahan said. “We are not endorsing a person. We are not endorsing a party. If you look to what’s going to happen on Thursday, to have both sides of the aisle represented on the first hole, to me that’s representative and reflective of this event.”