LPGA responds to group's planned Trump protest

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PHOENIX – The LPGA released a statement Friday addressing UltraViolet’s plan to stage a protest Saturday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

UltraViolet, an organization formed to “fight sexism and expand women’s rights,” will be urging the LPGA in its protest to “sever ties with Donald Trump and move the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open from Trump’s Bedminster Golf Course,” according to protest organizers.

The U.S. Women’s Open is one of 35 events on the LPGA schedule, but it is staged and operated by the United States Golf Association. The championship is scheduled to be played at Trump Bedminster July 13-16.

The LPGA statement reads:

“The LPGA respects the freedom for individuals and organizations to express their own views. As the world's leading professional golf organization for women, the LPGA is committed to our mission, to create opportunities for the best female golfers in the world to showcase their talent. As a global tour and membership, we try not to let politics get in the way of their opportunities.

“Regarding the U.S. Women's Open, the USGA – not the LPGA -- owns and operates the event and we are delighted to have so many of our LPGA members qualify to participate each year. When it comes to decisions regarding venue, purse, TV, etc., those are solely made by the USGA. We respect and support the decisions made by the USGA on this matter.”

UltraViolet plans to fly a banner over Marriott’s Wildfire Golf Club beginning at 4 p.m. ET Saturday that will read: “LPGA: Take a Mulligan, Dump Sexist Trump.” The group also is planning to assemble at the entrance to the tournament and hand out golf balls and golf-patterned beach balls that read: “LPGA: Dump Trump.”

“By holding the US Women’s Open at Trump’s golf courses, the LPGA is giving millions in revenue, free advertising and branding to Trump, a racist, sexist, sexual predator,” UltraViolet co-founder Shaunna Thomas said in a news release. “That’s deeply disappointing. The LPGA should not be rewarding Trump’s bigoted brand and normalize his platform and policies that degrade women and divide our country. The USGA and LPGA need to send a clear signal to young golfers, including women, people of color, and people with disabilities that it stands against Trump’s brand of hate, and for an inclusive strong future by moving the upcoming U.S. Women’s Open from Trump National Golf Course.”

The organization reports it has 100,000 signatures on a petition calling for the U.S. Women’s Open to be moved.