Presidents Cup will welcome 3 former presidents, possibly President Trump

Getty Images

Presidents Cup will welcome 3 former presidents, possibly President Trump

PGA Tour

Presidents Cup will welcome 3 former presidents, possibly President Trump

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — The 12th Presidents Cup will begin, fittingly, in presidential fashion. And it could end that way, too.

Three former Presidents – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama – will stand together on the first tee Thursday at Liberty National as the biennial competition kicks off in patriotic style, and with American staples Lady Liberty and the Freedom Tower not far off in the distance.

Three past presidents together at a single sporting event; that’s rare, not just in golf but in all of sports. The last time more than one former President has attended the Presidents Cup was 2005 when Clinton and George H.W. Bush were together at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Va. There was also the time that Clinton, H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford played together at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in 1995.

But how often do three presidents drop a puck in a Stanley Cup Finals game or flip the coin at the Super Bowl?

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan called it “a remarkably cool aspect” to this year’s Presidents Cup.

“I get excited about the fact that three individuals ascended to the highest office in the land and golf was an important part of their life and continues to be an important part of their life,” Monahan said Wednesday. “… I think it’s a great statement for our game.”

Thursday’s statement, however, may not be the biggest of the week. The tournament’s honorary chairman, President Donald Trump, could possibly show up for Sunday’s final day of action.

“The name of this event is named after the highest office in the land,” Monahan said, “and you’ve heard me say really over the course of a year how we’ve always respected the office of the presidency, so when we extended that invitation … and when he accepted, we were really excited to know that he’d accepted that role and was contemplating coming out here, and we’re excited to have him out here, we really are.

“We hope he comes and he’ll be welcomed by us and by our players.”

Monahan said that the Secret Service has already been out to Liberty National to assess the security demands of Trump attending the event, and that the PGA Tour has helped in the process. Still, there’s no guarantee that Trump will come.

“We’re thinking that he’s going to come, but he hasn’t yet confirmed,” Monahan said. “And we don’t know timing or all the underlying details.”

If Trump were to show, it would likely bring a cloud of controversy to the event, even if Monahan is hopeful that Trump’s presence would be positive. Last week, Trump made comments at a rally in Alabama that NFL players who kneel for the national anthem should be fired. The NFL responded last Sunday to the divisive comments made by the president, as players, coaches and owners chose to kneel, lock arms or even stay in the locker room before their games. Several NFL owners also released statements denouncing Trump’s comments.

So far at Liberty National, American captains and players have insisted they would not protest during the Presidents Cup.

“We’ve had that discussion already,” said U.S. captain Steve Stricker. “None of my players want to do that.”

For Monahan, he’d like to keep it all about the golf this week, as well.

“This is a non-partisan event; we are not endorsing a person, we’re not endorsing a party, and 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,” Monahan said. “This event has never been a political event, it’s been a golf event that unites the world’s best players together, unites fans all over the world, a team competition that has done and will continue to do a lot of goodwill.”

Trump’s presence Sunday at Liberty National, however, would bring distractions. But as Monahan defends, the competition is called what it’s called for a reason.

“We’ve always invited the president,” Monahan said. “It’s the Presidents Cup. He’s the President of the United States.”

– Jeff Babineau contributed

Latest

More Golfweek
Home