Steve Stricker has said that his American team will not stage a protest during the national anthem at this week’s Presidents Cup.
The US captain insisted that his side would not be following the lead of other high-profile American athletes and sports teams in making some form of protest during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner at Liberty National.
Last weekend’s NFL fixtures saw a number of players and teams sit, kneel, link arms and, in some instances, remain in the locker room for the playing of the national anthem. This came at the end of the week that comments about anthem protests from US president Donald Trump brought the matter firmly back into view.
“We've had a discussion already and none of my players want to do that,” said Stricker.
Asked to elaborate, he added: “I just wanted to know what they wanted to do and how we wanted to proceed as a team. 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.”
Stricker’s measured response was in contrast to comments made yesterday by one of his vice-captains, Davis Love III.
Speaking on the Golf Channel’s ‘Morning Drive’ show, Love said: “I think you’ll see in golf that there’s a little bit more restraint. 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 prayer or during the national anthem to thank our country, to thank our forefathers who went before us. And then we can protest with our votes, with our letters to our congressmen or however we want.
“But I think President Trump is right. There is a time for protest, and it probably isn’t during the national anthem. Our country has fought hard for that right.”
Speaking today, Love stood firm, saying: “We're here to play golf. We're not here to protest."
Responding to a question on what he makes of the protests happening across US sports at the moment, Love’s fellow vice-captain Tiger Woods, above, said: “Obviously, there’s a lot of unrest, whether it’s political or racial, in this country right now. That’s something that’s obviously happened in the past and it’s happening in America right now. Hopefully, things can be healed, we can progress as a nation and come together, not just only in the near future but for perpetuity.
Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson have also gone on record on the protests.
Fowler, above, said: “I think the same reason we have our flag, our freedom, the people that fought for our fight to be able to do that, those guys have their right and freedom of speech to do what they want.
“I don't necessarily think it's the right time to do it, it's our National Anthem, it's our country's flag, so it's a special time to, I guess, in a way pay respect and remember what a great country we get to live in, but it is free speech. You can do what you want. But I just think it may be better at a different time.”
Mickelson added: “Look, we have social injustices in this country, and we should all strive to eliminate them. We've made great strides over the years, but we've got a ways to go, and we should all strive to eliminate those. But this week, I'm so proud to represent the United States, to play for my country, to play for my teammates and participate in this great event.”