Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Donald Trump

By Randall MellDecember 15, 2016, 7:00 pm

(Editor's note: GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 newsmakers of 2016. Take a look at why each item made our list, along with a collection of their top stories from the year. Click here for the full list and release dates.)

Donald Trump is about to become arguably the most powerful man on earth, but what will that mean to the sport he is so invested in?

After being sworn in as President of the United States in January, Trump will wield enormous influence in so many matters of public policy and private business. He will occupy a platform that promises to raise golf’s profile, given his history with the sport and his love of the game.

But will that be good for golf? Trump’s critics don’t think so.

A headline from the Washington Post’s editorial page (Nov. 3): “Don’t like Trump’s piggish prejudice? Blame the world of golf: Sexism, racism and undocumented workers thrive on the green.”

From the pages of USA Today (Nov. 16): “A national championship hosted by the President of the United States? Isn’t that the stuff of our dreams? Actually, with this man, it’s more like a nightmare.”

From the Huffington Post (July 8): “Once again, the USGA puts profit over principle. And where’s the LPGA? Silent as usual, even though the Donald has disparaged women regularly, calling them bimbos, dogs, fat pigs and crazy. Nothing new here – the good girls of golf have always been afraid to cross the guys.”

Donald Trump is passionate about golf. He’s a 3 handicap, a club champion at more than one venue. He owns 17 world class golf destinations, including Trump Doral, Trump Turnberry and Trump Doonbeg. He was host to one of the PGA Tour’s World Golf Championships at Doral, though he’s losing that next year, and he was once host to a highly successful LPGA event in West Palm Beach, Fla., which paid out the top winner’s check in the women’s game.

LPGA veteran Natalie Gulbis spoke in support of Trump at the Republican National Convention in July. Two-time major championship winner Cristie Kerr backs Trump as a great supporter of the women’s game.

But Trump’s misogynistic comments about women, his “killers and rapists” comments about Mexican and other immigrants and his campaign call for a “complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” have led critics to make unflattering connections between Trump and the culture of golf.

“Golf, at its worst, is Donald Trump,” Michael Peppard wrote in the Washington Post last month.

Golf’s ruling bodies continued to find themselves in uncomfortable positions in their partnerships with Trump over this past year.

Through the year, pressure mounted on the USGA to move the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open away from Trump Bedminster in New Jersey, even after the USGA announced this summer that it continues to plan to stage the event there.

“During his presidential campaign, Mr. Trump has made some remarks that are at odds with our belief that golf should be welcoming and inclusive for all,” the USGA said in a statement in July. “We have reiterated that we do not share his views, and that is still true.

“It is important to note that Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster, has fully complied with our standing anti-discriminatory member policy, which we will continue to require of all championship sites.”

Trump was host to a major championship in women’s golf in 2015, with the Ricoh Women’s British Open played at Trump Turnberry in Scotland. It was a large success, with women appreciative of the chance to play another classic venue in the men’s rotation. His Trump Bedminster club in New Jersey is scheduled to host the U.S. Women’s Open next year and also to host the PGA Championship in 2022. Trump National in Potomac Falls, Va., is scheduled to host the Senior PGA Championship next year.

This fall, three U.S. senators sent a joint letter to the USGA urging the governing body to move the U.S. Women’s Open away from Trump Bedminster, citing Trump for a “pattern of degrading and dehumanizing women.”

Earlier this year, Jeffrey Sammons, Cedrick Smith and Calvin Sinnette publicly renounced their relationships with the USGA in protest of the governing body’s partnership with Trump. They were all involved in African-American historical golf projects at the USGA museum.

Back in June, the PGA Tour made public its plans to move its World Golf Championship out of Trump Doral. Ironically, the Tour announced it was moving the event to Mexico City. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said it was “fundamentally a sponsorship issue.”

Trump called it a “sad day” and said “the PGA Tour has put profit ahead of thousands of American jobs, millions of dollars in revenues for local communities ... This decision only further embodies the very reason I am running for President of the United States.”

Golf waits to see what Trump will mean to the sport once he’s in office.


Trump Vs. ...

Samuel L. Jackson: Trump cheats at golf; Trump responds

Martha Burk

Burk wants USGA to dump Trump

Burk questions LPGAers 'remaining mute'

Oscar De La Hoya: Here's how Trump cheats at golf


Trump on Feherty

Feherty: Trump reveals regrets

Feherty: Trump and political correctness


PGA Tour Moves WGC From Doral to Mexico

Trump arrives by helicopter at Doral

Tour moving Doral tournament to Mexico City


Trump opens renovated but 'same Turnberry'


Players Support Trump

Daly: Dang right [Trump] will get my vote

Nicklaus: I'd vote for Trump

Watch: Gulbis praises Trump in RNC speech


Impact of Trump's Win

Social reax: Pros excited about Trump election

Trump's impact on golf

Impact of Tump presidency on golf


Getty Images

DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

Getty Images

Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

Getty Images

Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

Getty Images

Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.