US billionaire and presidential hopeful Donald Trump has become engaged in war of words with a golf chief over the use of his Turnberry course for the upcoming British Open.
Mr Trump has penned a letter to Michael Whan, of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), offering to pull the upcoming Women’s British Open from his Ayrshire course on
I am willing to let you play the Open at another courseDonald Trump
The missive comes after world golf bodies attempted to distance themselves from Mr Trump in the wake of controversial remarks he made on the campaign trail regarding Mexican immigrants.
Last week Mr Whan said the Women’s British Open would still be played at Turnberry – due to logistical issues – but that “by no means, however, does this decision suggest support for Mr Trump’s comments”. Mr Trump has now hit back and, in a letter to Mr Whan, said that he is free to host his tournament somewhere else but that he “will have to move quickly”.
“You have an absolutely binding contract to play the great Turnberry Ailsa course but, based on your rude comment to the press, please let this letter serve to represent that, subject to a conversation with me on the details, I would be willing to let you play the Women’s British Open, in two weeks, at another course rather than magnificent Turnberry (which I own).”
The Ladies Golf Union has since denied that it was planning on moving the tournament which is to feature a host of female stars such 2014 champion Mo Martin, world No1 Inbee Park, world No2 Lydia Ko, US Women’s Open Champion Michelle Wie and Scotland’s own Catriona Matthew, who won the event in 2009. In a statement, Trish Wilson, chairman of the LGU, on behalf of the Ricoh Women’s British Open, said: “We do not agree with Mr Trump’s comments and we would reiterate the views in the statement made earlier this month by the LPGA, PGA of America, PGA Tour and USGA. With 21 days to go to the start of the championship, there is no consideration of changing venue and the championship will take place exactly as scheduled.”
Speaking at his presidential campaign launch last month, Mr Trump said: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
The comments drew scorn from a host of organisations and bodies, with ESPN, NBCUniversal, Nascar and Macy’s Inc severing ties with the billionaire.
However, in a later interview with the Golf Channel, Mr Trump defended the comments and said that he’s received “tremendous support” from those in the golf world because “they all know I’m right”.
This was quickly disputed by the sport’s organising bodies, the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, USGA and PGA of America, who issued a joint statement saying Trump’s comments didn’t reflect their views.
Phil Mickelson, the five-time major champion, who tees off at the British Open in St Andrews next week, said: “It puts everybody in an awkward situation.”
In his letter to Mr Whan, Mr Trump also reveals how hurt he was by the LPGA statement due to his support for the ladies’ game when others “wanted nothing to do with it”.
It reads: “As you know, I have been a tremendous supporter of women’s golf. When others wanted nothing to do with it, and many thought that the LPGA tour was a thing of the past and had absolutely no future, I stuck with the tour and with the ladies, many of whom I have gotten to know and respect – not only for their great talent but for being wonderful people. I defended the LPGA tour for years.”