Since 1994, golf fans have enjoyed the biennial Presidents Cup. The event pins a squad of the best golfers from the United States against a team of selected international players, excluding European countries, which play the U.S. in the Ryder Cup.
The 2017 Presidents Cup, which begins this week at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey, comes amid a firestorm of protests during the recital of the national anthem at sporting events.
The demonstrations — which range from kneeling to sitting to raising a fist to staying in the locker room during the anthem — started in the NFL last year with Colin Kaepernick and have spread to MLB, the WNBA, women’s pro soccer and even youth sports.
With protests on the rise after President Donald Trump’s comments Friday that team owners should fire players who don’t stand for the anthem, many wondered how the American golf team would respond.
During a press conference Tuesday, the U.S. captain, Steve Stricker, was asked about the possibility of a Team USA anthem protest.
He said he sought input from his 12 team members.
“We’ve had that discussion already,” Stricker said. “None of my players want to do that.”
He continued, “We are 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.”
David Love III, the assistant captain of Team USA, said Tuesday on the Golf Channel, “I think President Trump is right. There is a time for protest, and it probably isn’t during the national anthem.”
Love suggested that protests be moved to other avenues such as “with our votes” and “letters to our congressmen.”
On Sunday, teammate Rickie Fowler also spoke out on the issue.
“I don’t think there’s ever going to be a situation where I don’t recognize the national anthem,” he told ESPN. “There’s a lot that went into giving us the freedom.”
Fowler added, “For me, personally, being around [instructor] Butch [Harmon], someone who fought in Vietnam, the flag represents a lot. I’m going to pay respect to the people who gave us rights and our freedom.”
The Presidents Cup begins Thursday.
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