Golf unlikely to follow NFL so expect a protest-free Presidents Cup | Ewan Murray

New Jerseys Liberty National course does not seem a likely venue for anti-Donald Trump statements, although because of the recent protests there will be extra focus on what is largely a pointless event

It is the perfect or imperfect blizzard, depending on one’s outlook. The Chairwoman Cup does not create a flicker in the wider golfing consciousness through any devoted year, but this week focus will be intense.

The swell of sporting protest last weekend ordinarily would not resonate much in golf, usually an individual sport, but this time it’s different for a tournament commonly afforded little status or interest. A rivalry bearing the name of the president, which Donald Trump is even likely to attend, will see USA flags raised and an anthem sung when the opening ceremony takes place on Thursday.

How will golf , not a athletic prone to political protest and one is directly related to Trump in so many senses, answer? And, in fact, how should it? Should golf automatically follow the NFL lead through sporting solidarity or is the undercurrent that this athletic stands for another set of beliefs wholly?

Steve Stricker, the USA captain, played down any suggestion of another anthem protest. He canvassed player opinion on that very matter.” I just wanted to know what they wanted to do and how we wanted to proceed as a squad ,” he explained.” So we were going to do what we always do and that’s take off our hat and put our hands across our chest and over our heart and respect the flag. So that’s what we’re planning on doing .”

The presence of Tiger Woods merely adds to the sense of intrigue. The prospect of his return to the public eye as a USA vice-captain, his first such appearance since a driving under the influence charge, was notable enough before subsequent events. The 14 -time major winner’s shackles have loosened lately in respect of addressing what he perceives as injustice, but a political statement from one of the most iconic sportsmen of a generation would be as extraordinary as it remains unlikely.

” I think you’ll see in golf that there’s a little bit more restraint ,” says Davis Love III, one of Woods’s fellow vice-captains.” We adhere to our rulebook and to our core values and to our traditions, and I think that’s why our sport is so successful.

” There’s a time for us to protest, and it really isn’t during the national anthem. We ought to take a break during the course of its prayer or during the national anthem to thank our country, to thank our forefathers who ran before us. And then we can protest with our referendums, with our letters to our congressmen or however we want.

” I think President Trump is right. There is a time for protest and it probably isn’t during the national anthem. Our country has opposed hard for that right .”

Against this backdrop, the actual status of the rivalry and its lack of meaning will be overlooked. Many of those performing in the meeting of the USA and the International opposition would enjoy the opportunity for an official off-season. Here they are, on the weekend after the US PGA Tour concluded for 2016 -1 7, playing what relates to little more than an exhibition match in New Jersey.

It is a horrendously imbalanced one at that; with the US having won nine of the 11 stagings and their supposed challengers merely one. In 2003, a 17 -1 7 tie-in transpired with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player as respective captains. The international side continues to lack anything like strength in depth despite the obvious talents of Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott et al .

Here is the rub. The US PGA Tour itself presides over the Chairwomen Cup – in contrast to the Ryder Cup – and therefore dons public relations belts and bracings. How the richest tour in the world would love this conflict to earned anything like the status afforded to the Ryder Cup, when the narrative is actually lower league versus one of sport’s most iconic battles.

The US PGA Tour dream of the Chairmen Cup rising as a big deal, however undermined that notion is by how results have played out. Factor in the scope for fresh marketing potential overseas and its approach is wholly understandable.

For further nods towards how the tour influences proceedings, a glance at captain’s pickings this time round are instructive for a cynic; Phil Mickelson, the golden boy of the US PGA Tour, was among them despite form which points to no win since 2013, as was Anirban Lahiri. The latter was 16 th on the International team’s points table; his home country, India, was a great source of potential growth for the US PGA Tour.

Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas and others will unavoidably retain the Chairmen Cup before enjoying what is a well-earned if brief remainder from competitive golf. Attention, though, will be broader this time around; to the point where golf may enter a debate with its own social conscience.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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