US presidential hopeful Donald Trump is confident the European Tour will take the Irish Open to his Doonbeg links.
The American also insists golf’s governing bodies are keen to do business with him because he is now “the front runner” for the Republican nomination despite his recent controversial comments on everything from Mexicans, women and the war on terror.
“My relationship is very good (with golf governing bodies) and I’m also the front runner,” Trump said. "You know being the front runner, people like you more than they would if I was number twelve. I don’t know if that’s changed it but I am the number one contender and I’m not only the number one, I’m number one by a lot.
“A poll just came out today, CNN just did that big poll, I’m at 49 percent and number two is at 15 percent and number three is at 14 percent, so when you have that kind of a lead obviously I’m speaking for a lot of people.
"But my relationship with the different bodies, I think it has been terrific.”
As for Doonbeg, which is now called Trump International Golf Links, Trump sounded delighted with the progress that’s been made with renovations to the course as well as the changes that are being carried out to Open venue Turnberry.
“Turnberry is coming along fine and will be open again for play in June while Doonbeg is doing very well, so much so they want to bring the Irish Open there.”
Asked what he’d do for golf if he became President of the United States, he said: "Well, it will kill my game but it’ll be good for golf. It won’t help my game because I’ll be working but I’ll get to play.
"I love golf, I love playing it, it’s a very important game, it’s a great game. You can learn so much, you make so many great friends by playing golf but I will say this; it won’t be good for my game but it’ll be great for golf because I have a lot of feeling for golf.”
As for the future of the WGC at Doral, the challenge of finding a sponsor if Cadillac decides not to renew its contract and the political incorrectness of Trump, the Republican front-runner was bullish on the resort's future as a tour stop.
"The players love it here,” Trump said.
The PGA Tour has a contract to hold the event at Doral through 2023, but there is believed to be a provision in that contract that a new title sponsor could take the tournament elsewhere.
“I have a great relationship with the Tour and I have a great relationship with Cadillac, in fact we just extended our relationship for another three years [to provide cars for Trump’s various properties],” Trump said on Sunday where he landed on another part of the resort in his helicopter away from the usual helipad near the ninth tee.
“I don’t know how Cadillac is doing with the Tour. I let them use my venue, but I don’t know if there’s going to be an extension or not, but I would imagine you could get another sponsor pretty easily in South Florida.”
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem met Trump on Sunday but before sitting down for that chat he explained that while the tour would rather remain in the South Florida market, they were keeping their options open.
“If you look back on the last, say, 30 years, we have moved out of markets before, but not very often. And usually, we look at the situation as to how can we improve it. We're not looking to leave,” Finchem said.
“Having said that, we have to have sponsorship to conduct a tournament. So it's never in our business to make all the decisions. We have partners and stakeholders, and they have a lot to say about these things.”
Trump also explained that the success of Doral, and his other golf properties, isn’t dependent on hosting professional events.
“I would make much more money at Doral if I didn’t have a tournament,” Trump said. “This is the prime month in Florida, you can’t get a room and I have the best rooms in Miami. I love the tournament, it’s been here 50 years. With all of that said, I would make much more money.”