BEDMINSTER, N.J. – They say you can’t play defense in golf.
You should have been in the U.S. Women’s Open media center Tuesday at Trump National.
A Jujutsu grand master would have been proud.
One player after another deftly blocked, deflected or dodged questions about President Donald Trump.
USGA executive director Mike Davis, however, didn’t bother playing defense. He didn’t bother playing at all. He didn’t show up. Remarkably, he wasn’t there for the organization’s annual U.S. Women’s Open news conference.
Yes, Davis doesn’t always make an appearance at this annual women’s news conference, which is troubling enough in itself, but his absence Tuesday was especially glaring.
Davis’ last appearance at the U.S. Women’s Open annual USGA news conference was 2014, but this one demanded his square jaw, even if he was only going to deflect, block or dodge, like all the players he left to answer the hard questions.
Funny thing, though. While Davis didn’t have to dodge any hardballs Tuesday, he’s the one who got the black eye.
“It's probably been several years since he has been here,” USGA public services director Beth Major said of the news conference’s makeup. “I know this is the team assembled last year. We are being consistent with the same team.”
Davis is consistently missing in action at this important women’s news conference.
He needed to be there Tuesday if only to send a message with his mere presence.
Davis needed to be there to reassure the women in his charge that he cares about their event just as much as he does the men’s event. He needed to be there to face what they faced.
You want to elevate the U.S. Women’s Open?
It would help by showing up for the women’s big annual news conference.
By the way, USGA president Diana Murphy wasn’t at Tuesday’s news conference, either.
The USGA sold Tuesday’s media event as being focused on course setup and fan experience. Well, the one fan everyone’s talking about is the most powerful man in the world, and President Trump just might show up Sunday to present the trophy.
Davis insists he doesn’t want to engage in the “politics” he sees in this controversial U.S. Women’s Open, and so Tuesday he avoided the hardball question USA Today columnist Christine Brennan asked.
How is the topic of sexual assault politics?
“I think we've already issued our statement on that discussion,” said Stu Francis, the USGA championship chairman who was left to answer for Davis. “We really are here to conduct a great golf championship.”
Even if Davis believes there is politics wrapped around that question, he could have showed up to answer other relevant but less volatile questions.
For women who are concerned about where the USGA is leading them, who are concerned about your commitment to making the game better for them, what would you like them to know?
That would have been a good question for Davis.
It isn’t a Trump question.
It’s an important women’s golf question.
There were a lot of tough Trump questions for players Tuesday, but a lot of the same answers.
Donald Trump is a man who bragged about sexually assaulting women. Now, he’s hosting the crown jewel of women’s golf? What do you think of that?
That was another Brennan hardball.
“I take my role as a female role model very seriously,” Michelle Wie said. “This week is about the golf.”
The last half of Wie’s answer was the player mantra for all variety of Trump questions.
There was Lydia Ko. . .
“I'm excited to play the U.S. Women's Open and not think of it in a political way.”
There was Inbee Park . . .
“We are here to play golf, not here to talk about the politics, so I don't have any better answer about it.”
There was Lexi Thompson . . .
“It's an amazing golf course and great track for this championship, and I'm just going to focus on my play this week.”
There was Danielle Kang . . .
“We're here to play a golf tournament. We're here to play a major championship hosted by the USGA. We're all just really happy to be playing the U.S. Open.”
There was no Mike Davis, though, but come Sunday we just might see Donald Trump.