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Trump says back to normal in golf means big crowds, no masks

The president says he hopes golf will allow fans at tournaments after its initial month back in an interview on NBC during the “TaylorMade Driving Relief" charity match Sunday.
President Donald Trump walks across the South Lawn of White House in Washington on Sunday. Trump was returning from nearby Camp David, Md.
President Donald Trump walks across the South Lawn of White House in Washington on Sunday. Trump was returning from nearby Camp David, Md. [ ALEX BRANDON | AP ]
Published May 17, 2020

President Donald Trump’s idea of golf getting back to normal is having thousands of fans who aren’t wearing masks in attendance and “practically standing on top of each other.”

Trump joined the NBC broadcast Sunday of TaylorMade Driving Relief, a Skins game involving Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff. It was the first live golf on television since the coronavirus pandemic shut down golf in March.

The PGA Tour puts its season on hold March 13 after the first round of The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach. It plans to return June 11 at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas. The tour has said it will not have fans for at least a month.

“After that, hopefully, it will be back,” Trump said in his phone interview with NBC host Mike Tirico. “We really want to see it back to normal so when we have all these thousands, tens of thousands of people going to your majors and going to golf tournaments, we want them to be having that same experience. We don’t want them having to wear masks and be doing what we’ve been doing for the last number of months. Because that’s not getting back to normal.

“We want to be back to normal where you have the big crowds and they’re practically standing on top of each other and they’re enjoying themselves, not where they’re worried. But in the meantime, they do the social distancing, and they practice that. And they’ve been doing really well. The country is ready to start moving forward.”

No fans or media were allowed for the Skins match at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach. The same policies will be in place next Sunday at nearby Medalist for a charity match of the team of Phil Mickelson and Bucs quarterback Tom Brady against Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning.

Trump said he knows most of the PGA Tour players and has played with many of them. That includes McIlroy three years ago. McIlroy criticized Trump on the McKellar Golf Podcast last week for politicizing the pandemic and said he would not play golf with him again.

Tirico raised McIlroy’s name as being among those who have played with Trump and what they talk about on the course. The president didn’t bite on McIlroy’s recent comments.

“A lot of them are very political, actually,” Trump said. “Some like my politics very much, and probably some don’t. I guess the ones that don’t, I don’t get to see as much.”

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