Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

By Randall MellJuly 15, 2017, 12:36 am

BEDMINSTER, N.J. – Shanshan Feng led the U.S. Women’s Open as she stepped on to the 15th green Friday at Trump National, but she couldn’t help pausing to take in the historic spectacle unfolding there.

President Donald Trump was settling in to his private box aside the 15th green and behind the 16th tee.

Leaning on her putter, Feng couldn’t resist turning to sneak a peek with the president looking down behind bullet-proof glass.

“I heard people kind of screaming, so that's what I was trying to find out, why they were screaming,” Feng said.

Feng wasn’t alone.

Inbee Park couldn’t make out the president behind the glass as she stepped onto the 18th green, but her caddie, Brad Beecher, spotted him.

“It was kind of funny walking up to the green,” Beecher said. “Everybody was turned the other way, away from us, with their cellphone cameras pointed up at the president. We heard the yelling, and then we saw him get up and wave.”

Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis and Brooke Henderson were in the first group that passed through the 15th green after Trump arrived.

“I shot a glance,” Thompson said. “Honestly, I was just trying to focus on my shot.”

Trump first rolled onto his private golf club, Trump National, at 3:41 p.m. in a black SUV as part of a presidential motorcade.

Love or loathe this president, it was a historic moment.

Trump is the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

Lewis felt the weight of that history back at the ninth hole, where her group was held back from crossing to the 10th tee so that Trump’s motorcade could pass.

Controversies aside, Lewis appreciated the history being made.


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“That was kind of what intrigued me to start the week, was that we had never had an active sitting president at one of our events,” Lewis said. “So I was kind of excited, regardless of who it is, of the prospect that he came here to watch us.

“He tweeted about coming to the U.S. Women's Open. Some people didn't know it was going on. It's kind of a historic and cool moment to have our president here.”

While more than one activist group was protesting down the road from Trump National, Trump’s arrival was embraced by enthusiastic golf fans inside the club’s gates.

There was an electric crackle outside Trump’s private box as he ascended the staircase to the entrance at 5:22 p.m. A chorus of “wooo-hoos” and cheers went up as president waved.

Once inside his private box, Trump answered the call of spectators beckoning him to the window. He waved, shot a pair of thumbs up and balled his fist in a triumphant salute.

There were no jeers or signs of disapproval.

“Make America great again!” one fan shouted.

“You’re doing a great job,” another shouted.

Outside the gates, there were harsher things being said.

“For months we urged the USGA and LGPA to move this tournament,” Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet, a group formed to fight sexism and expand women’s rights, said in a statement. “They ignored us. Now, they are allowing Trump to use this tournament, and sadly the players, to benefit his own self-interests.

“The USGA and LPGA could have made a clear and unequivocal statement against sexual assault by moving this tournament. Instead they chose to embrace the man who is a walking, talking example of a sexual predator. Shame on the USGA. Shame on the LPGA. This is a stain on your brand that will not wash away.”

Players got a completely different vibe from the adoring fans huddled around Trump’s private box.

Henderson, a Canadian, felt the excitement building around the 15th green as she approached.

“It was really exciting,” Henderson said. “It's really amazing that the president of the United States is here to watch us play golf and on a tremendous golf course.

“It’s pretty incredible. I never thought that would happen. To be in my fifth U.S. Open and to have it happen is really cool.”

Security staff was lined up beneath Trump’s box, keeping spectators from getting too close. A pair of Secret Service members in bullet-proof vests with assault rifles stood watch nearby.

Trump spent about an hour watching from his box.

Thompson was probably more prepared to play in front of the president than anybody else in the field. She has playing privileges at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm and has played with the president.

“I've gotten to play with him quite a bit,” Thompson said. “He plays very fast. It's a good time. Definitely entertaining.”

Trump made Friday as historic inside the gates as it was controversial outside the gates.

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Lexi involved in a(nother) rules controversy at LPGA Thailand

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 26, 2018, 2:50 am

Jessica Korda stole the show this week at the Honda LPGA Thailand, winning the star-studded event by four strokes in her first start since undergoing serious jaw surgery to address a significant overbite that led to ailments ranging from facial cramping to headaches to sleep apnea.

But just four strokes behind Korda finished Lexi Thompson, who may have challenged for the win on Sunday if not for another rules controversy during the second round of the event.

Thompson, who was famously assessed two two-stroke penalties last year at the ANA Inspiration that ultimately cost her the title, was hit with another two-stroke penalty on Friday in Thailand after she moved a sign out of her swing path at Siam Country Club.

The 23-year-old mistakenly thought a billboard on the 15th hole was a moveable object, when in fact, the local rule deemed this particular advertisement a "temporary immovable obstruction."

The two-stroke penalty was assesed after the round, where the par she made on the hole became a double bogey and what would have been a 66 ballooned into a 68.

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After Further Review: JT may face serious Ryder Cup heckling

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 26, 2018, 2:09 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Thomas getting heckler thrown out ...

Justin Thomas polished off a playoff win at the Honda Classic despite the efforts of a fan who screamed for his ball to head for a fairway bunker on the 16th hole.

Thomas signaled for the fan to be ejected after striping his tee shot on No. 16, telling him, “Enjoy your day, buddy. You’re done.” It’s the second straight week that Thomas has had issues with fans, having bristled at some of the behavior he encountered while grouped with Tiger Woods at the Genesis Open.

Thomas’ stance is that golf has earned a reputation as a “classy sport” that should place it above jeering and catcalls from the gallery. It’s a view that is as noble as it is unachievable.

As long as tournaments continue to serve alcohol well into the afternoon hours, there will be outlier fans who will look to get a rise out of players with comments before, during or after swings. Thomas was within his right to ask for the fan’s removal, though I’d imagine the European fans planning to attend this year’s Ryder Cup in Paris might take note of the apparent impact the gallery can have on Thomas while in the heat of battle. – Will Gray


On the debate over rolling back the ball ...

The opening salvos in what promises to be one of the most polarizing eras in golf were exchanged this week. First, USGA CEO Mike Davis, via Jack Nicklaus, announced his arrival: “Mike said, ‘We’re getting there [on the distance issue]. We’re going to get there. I need your help when we get there,’” the Golden Bear explained when asked about the growing drumbeat to curtail how far modern players hit the golf ball.

A few days later, former Acushnet CEO Wally Uihlein fired back: “Mike Davis has not told us (Acushnet/Titleist) that he is close and he has not asked us for help if and when he gets there.”

Perhaps this will turn out to be a misunderstanding and the game’s rules makers and manufacturers will all end up on the same sideline, but it doesn’t feel that way right now. Rex Hoggard


On Tiger turning up the notch on his comeback ...

It’s safe to say the Tiger Woods comeback is ahead of schedule. After looking lost with his long game in his first two starts of the year, he led the field in proximity to the hole and third in driving distance. He flighted and shaped shots both directions, seemingly at ease, looking nothing like the player we saw at Torrey and Riviera.

If that form continues at Bay Hill and beyond, this has the potential to be one of the greatest comebacks in golf history.  Ryan Lavner


On Korda's journey from pain to promise ...

Jessica Korda is the leader in the clubhouse for best story of the year in women’s golf. She won her first start of the season Sunday at the Honda LPGA Thailand just a little more than two months after undergoing a complex and painful double-jaw surgery to alleviate headaches caused by her jaw’s alignment.

She did so in record-breaking fashion, shattering tournament scoring records against a star-studded field that included the top six players in the world. If Korda can so quickly overcome the challenges of that daunting offseason, there is no telling what else this determined young American star might achieve this year.  Randall Mell

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List loses playoff, may have gained performance coach

By Randall MellFebruary 26, 2018, 1:52 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Luke List didn’t win in his playoff with Justin Thomas Sunday at the Honda Classic, but he thinks he may have found a pretty good new performance coach.

The guy’s name is “Moose.”

He’s a former Australian rules football player.

Actually, his full name is Brent Stevens, a friend of List’s caddie, who put them on the phone together for the first time last week at the Genesis Open.

List liked a lot of the performance keys Stevens gave him and posted some of the advice in his yardage book, so he could reference them.


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“Effort over result” was one of the ideas List scribbled down.

“I feel like I've got the ability to play at this level,” said List, who was seeking his first victory Sunday at PGA National. “It just hasn't quite happened yet, but the more I think about it, I feel like the worse I do. So I focus on what's in front of me, the effort into the shot. I did a really good job of that this week.”

List said he’s interested in maybe visiting Australia to take Moose’s training to another level.

“He's a very fit dude,” List said. “He's got some clients that he brings down to south of Melbourne, to run the sand dunes,” List said, “and if we keep in contact, which I'm sure we will, I'm going to have to go down there and get my butt kicked.”

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Both in contention, Thomas hears 'crickets' from Woods

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 26, 2018, 1:36 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods has become a friend, confidant and something of an adviser for Justin Thomas.

Whenever Thomas has been in contention in his young career, Woods has often texted him advice or good luck on the eve of the final round.

That wasn’t the case Saturday night after the third round of the Honda Classic.

“Got crickets last night,” Thomas said, laughing.


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That’s because Woods was in contention, too, beginning the final round seven shots off the lead.

“I knew he had one thing in mind, and we both had the same thing in mind,” Thomas said. “I thought that was pretty funny.”

Thomas added that he was “very impressed” with Woods’ 12th-place finish at PGA National.