BEDMINSTER, N.J. – USGA executive director Mike Davis said Wednesday he still doesn’t know if President Donald Trump will attend the U.S. Women’s Open this week, but his organization’s prepared if he does.
“If he does come, we would certainly welcome him,” Davis told GolfChannel.com from his office in the USGA’s portable compound at Trump National. “Since our beginning in 1895, we’ve only had three sitting presidents come to an event, and we’ve never had a sitting president come to the U.S. Women’s Open. Out of respect for the office, regardless of what side of the aisle you sit on, we would welcome that.”
If Trump comes, should we expect him to present the Harton S. Semple Trophy on Sunday evening?
“That’s not in the plans right now,” Davis said.
Davis said he did not attend the USGA’s pre-championship news conference Tuesday because he believes his presence would have turned the focus away from the competition.
“The feeling was, that if I were sitting up there, that was going to make the press conference very political in nature,” Davis said. “If I wasn’t up there, it was going to do what we wanted it to do, place the focus on the biggest and most important championship in golf.”
Davis said he has attended every U.S. Women’s Open since he became the USGA executive director in 2011, but he has made a practice of intentionally staying away from the pre-championship news conference, leaving control to the championship committee.
“We’ve had a longstanding history of the chair of the championship committee handling the introduction,” Davis said. “I’m not setting up the golf course, I’m not conducting the event, and I certainly don’t know the operational end of it.”
Davis said he understands the controversy that has surrounded play at a Trump club made this year’s news conference different, but . . .
“The idea was we don’t think it’s in the best interests of the championship to continue to talk about politics,” Davis said. “We realize others don’t necessarily agree with that.”
Davis has been criticized for characterizing complaints that Trump has degraded women as being political. He said his positions on opposition to the USGA’s association with Trump were laid out when he spoke at U.S. Women’s Open media day in May, and he didn’t see the point in having to address them again this week.
“What would I say differently from what I’m already on record saying?” Davis said. “The answers weren’t going to change.”