JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — President Donald Trump didn’t just present the Presidents Cup trophy to the winning American team on Sunday. He dedicated it to the people who have endured hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
Trump, the honorary chairman of the event, became the first sitting president to attend the matches on the final day. He stuck around to give the gold trophy to U.S. captain Steve Stricker and an American team that won by the most lopsided margin in 17 years.
Before arriving at Liberty National Golf Club, a private club built on a former landfill, Trump dismissed “politically motivated ingrates” who have questioned his administration’s commitment to the devastation of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
“On behalf of all of the people of Texas and all of the people of — if you look today and see what’s happening, how horrible it is. But we have it under really great control,” Trump said. “Puerto Rico and the people of Florida who have really suffered over this last short period of time with the hurricanes. I want to just remember them and we’re going to dedicate this trophy to all of those people that went through so much, that we love.”
Though he was greeted with enthusiastic chants of “USA! USA!” when he walked out toward the green, one spectator shouted as he spoke, “You don’t give a (expletive) about Puerto Rico.”
Trump arrived when the Americans were less than an hour away from clinching the Presidents Cup for the seventh straight time. He went upstairs to the clubhouse at Liberty National and looked out over the 14th green behind a glass wall, chatting occasionally with PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan and his predecessor, Tim Finchem.
The Presidents Cup invites the heads of state from the host country to be honorary chairs of the event, and all have accepted over the years. Bill Clinton attended the matches when he was president in 2000 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Virginia.
Trump’s appearance added to a most presidential week at an event named after the highest office in the land. The Presidents Cup began Thursday with the three previous U.S. presidents — Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — sitting together at the opening ceremony and watching the matches get started.
Stricker had said earlier in the week, during so much attention on the widespread demonstrations of the national anthem during NFL games, that his team would “do what we always do” by removing their caps and respecting the flag.
He accepted the trophy from Trump with a long handshake.
“I thought it was a great thrill,” Stricker said. “I thought it was a great opportunity for us to be with him. And this tournament is about respecting the office, respecting the president of the United States, and whether your views may be one way versus another, that wasn’t what it was about out there on the green. It was about us getting together as a team, playing for one another, playing for the USA and it was a great thrill for all of us to get the trophy handed to us from him.”
Trump was impressed, too, and he wasn’t even on his own golf course.
He has played with Tiger Woods and Ernie Els of South Africa, assistant captains on the U.S. and International teams, since his election. Trump National Doral hosted a World Golf Championship until its title sponsor did not renew and the event was moved this year to Mexico City.
Trump’s courses this year have hosted the U.S. Women’s Open and the Senior PGA Championship. Turnberry, a links course in Scotland that he now owns, hosted the Women’s British Open two years ago.
“I have to say, our Team USA,” Trump said, turning to look at the players, “Wow. Did you play well.” He also complimented the International lead by saying, “You played very well today, by the way.”
The United States won, 19-11.