Politics may trump golf at U.S. Women's Open

By Randall MellMay 29, 2017, 6:50 pm

Women who will be teeing it up at the U.S. Women’s Open at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., in July got a sense last week of the challenges that await them.

Based on reports out of U.S. Women’s Open media day at Bedminster, and out of the Senior PGA Championship at Trump National in Washington, D.C., the shot-making challenges are only half of the rigor that awaits them at a Trump course.

In fact, players may want to consider some wardrobe adjustments, like Kevlar golf polos to deflect the criticism that is going to be aimed at them.

And flame retardant pants, to protect themselves from the hot seat awaiting in the media center.

It’s not going to be an easy week on or off the golf course with UltraViolet, Martha Burk and other activists outraged that women will be playing a major championship on one of Trump’s properties. It’s not going to be easy with media pundits stepping up criticism.

Champions Tour pros Fred Funk and Rocco Mediate got a taste of it at the Senior PGA Championship when they were confronted about the Trump logos they wear.

Women who tee it up at Bedminster won’t have to be wearing a Trump logo to move into the crosshairs. They will be found guilty of aiding and abetting Trump merely by showing up to play.

Earlier this year, UltraViolet co-founder Shaunna Thomas summed up the indictment every player who shows up at Bedminster will face. She said the USGA and LPGA are “giving millions in revenue, free advertising and branding to Trump, a racist, sexist, sexual predator” and they “should not be rewarding Trump’s bigoted brand and normalize his platform and policies that degrade women and divide our country.”

UltraViolet, a national group assembled to fight sexism and expand women’s rights, won’t have to fly “Dump Sexist Trump” banners over the U.S. Women’s Open the way it did over the LPGA’s Founders Cup and ANA Inspiration events. The message is going to hover with or without the actual signage.

At U.S. Women’s Open media day last week, USGA executive director Mike Davis tried to separate golf from politics, but he got cornered trying.

“We are simply not going to cross that line into politics,” Davis said. “We appreciate that there are some out there that want to make this a political event, but this is a golf event for the United States Golf Association.”

Newark Star-Ledger columnist Steve Politi countered with logic hard to dismiss. He countered asking how Trump’s bragging to Billy Bush about making unwanted sexual advances against women on a tape recording in an “Access Hollywood” revelation could be construed as political.

“How would what he said be any different if he was still just a prominent businessman?” Politi wrote. “Would the USGA have moved the tournament if he was still hosting a reality TV show and not living in the White House?”

Somebody will win the U.S. Women’s Open at Bedminster, but female players are all in a no-win situation trying to defend playing there.

There’s no fairway to hit with the questions coming to them. There are hazards everywhere in this kind of landscape.

The sad part is these players didn’t put themselves in this position.

The USGA did.

The hard part for the LPGA and its players is that the USGA is such a strong and vital partner. The U.S. Women’s Open has done more for their advancement than any other event in the game. The USGA is a vital partner in the LPGA-USGA Girls’ Golf program. The USGA opens doors for female players.

The LPGA isn’t going to abandon an important partner that has done so many good things for women’s golf, even though LPGA commissioner Mike Whan made it clear early on he would like the event moved. Whan wasn’t going to harm a loyal partner once the USGA dug in with its intent to keep its championship at Bedminster. He’s standing with the organization.

Players aren’t going to boycott, either, because it would be like cutting off their noses to spite their faces.

The USGA made this bed, and now every woman who shows up to play at Bedminster will be sleeping in it with the Trump brand.


Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey six on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

“It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

"It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."