Donald Trump says Turnberry remains part of British Open rota

Donald Trump says Turnberry remains part of British Open rota

Euro Tour

Donald Trump says Turnberry remains part of British Open rota

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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Is Trump Turnberry really off the British Open rota? Not according to Donald Trump.

The billionaire businessman, a leading Republican presidential candidate, was unaware of any issues with the R&A and instead is moving forward with proposed changes to the iconic property in Scotland.

“I haven’t been told that at an all, no,” Trump said Friday by phone about Turnberry being taken off the British Open rota, which first was reported by London’s Independent. “We’re working together with the R&A on the design. We have redesigned it, and it’s almost completed. It will be opened in July and, no, I haven’t heard that at all.”

If the R&A has not communicated Turnberry’s exclusion to Trump, the presidential candidate’s fiery remarks about Muslims, Mexicans, Chinese and women clearly has made it more difficult for the R&A to select Turnberry for its next British Open vacancy, in 2020.

“It is my belief and that of the R&A that golf should be open to all, regardless of gender, race, nationality or religion,” R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said in a statement in December.

Trump bought Turnberry (No. 1 Golfweek’s Best GB&I Classic Courses list), on the southwest coast, in April 2014 from a subsidiary owned by the Dubai investment group chaired by Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. At the time of the purchase, Trump promised a £200 million-plus (about $290 million) upgrade that included significant changes to the Ailsa Course that has hosted four British Opens: 1977, ’86, ’94 and most recently in 2009 when Stewart Cink defeated Tom Watson in a playoff.

Trump said the changes are almost complete and have been undertaken using Martin Ebert, the R&A’s preferred course architect.

The R&A also contributed approximately £500,000 ($725,000) toward infrastructure improvements at Turnberry, which is consistent with what the governing body has done at other Open venues to facilitate the telecast.

Would the R&A have committed that money if officials were unwilling to return after the political campaign has ended or if Trump were to win the White House in November?

“Yes, we did,” Peter Dawson, the former chief executive of the R&A, said Friday after his second round at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. “We did do underground cabling at Turnberry. Turnberry is a commercial venture, hasn’t had quite the same relationship with the R&A as private-members clubs have, in fact. Turnberry has done much more of their own financing of improvements there.”

Dawson added that when he left the R&A in July, Turnberry still was very much on the rota.

“Things have developed since then,” Dawson said. “It’s not for me to say what’s going to happen. It would be very difficult for me, even when I was at the R&A, to bind future championship committees, and I certainly can’t do it from a retired position.”

Trump believes his relationships with Dawson and Slumbers are on solid footing and that Slumbers, in Trump’s words, “Is a terrific guy, and he knows how great Turnberry is.”

Trump went on to say that Turnberry is one of the players’ favorite courses in Europe.

“All the players say it’s their favorite course, and wait until you see what I did with the ninth hole,” Trump said. “We moved it out in the ocean. The 11th hole, we moved out to the ocean. The 10th hole might be the best hole in golf. You’re not even going to believe it when you see it.”

Nick Faldo, a three-time British Open champion, said he is eager to see the changes at Turnberry, which includes five new holes and nine new greens.

“It’s a great venue, great-looking golf course,” Faldo said. “I’ve only seen from afar what they’re doing. It sounds great. Some of these holes sound amazing: like this 10th hole could be unbelievable if you have to drive over the hill.”

Faldo never won at Turnberry, but understands its importance in the rota.

“Take anything outside the ropes away and, yes, Turnberry should be on the rota,” Faldo said. “Simple as that.”

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