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.


U.S. Women’s Open: Articles, photos and videos


“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.

Getty Images

Ciganda, S.Y. Kim share lead in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 9:28 am

SHANGHAI - Carlota Ciganda of Spain shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to share the lead with Sei Young Kim after the third round of the LPGA Shanghai.

Ciganda carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 18th to finish tied with overnight leader Kim at 11-under 205. Kim shot a 71 with four bogeys and five birdies.

Ciganda is attempting to win her third LPGA title and first since the 2016 season, when she won two tournaments in a one-month span. Kim is chasing her eighth career LPGA win and second title of the 2018 season.

''I want to win because I didn't win last year,'' Ciganda said. ''I love playing in Asia. It's good for long hitters, playing quite long, so I'm quite comfortable.''


Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai


Angel Yin also birdied the final hole for a 68 and was a further stroke back with Brittany Altomare (69), Danielle Kang (71) and Ariya Jutanugarn (71).

Yin and Altomare have yet to break through for their first LPGA win. A win in Shanghai would make either player the ninth first-time winner of the 2018 season, which would tie 2016 for the third highest number of first-time winners in a season in LPGA history.

''I love competing,'' Yin said. ''That's why I'm playing, right? I'm excited to be in contention again going into Sunday.''

Local favorite Yu Liu was seventh after offsetting a lone bogey with four birdies for a 69.

Paula Creamer also shot a 69 and shared eighth at 8 under with Minjee Lee (70) and Bronte Law (71).

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

Getty Images

Koepka's pursuers have no illusions about catching him

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:50 am

Ahead by four, wielding his driver like Thor's hammer, Brooks Koepka is 18 holes from his third victory in five months and his first ascent to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.

The tournament isn't over. No one is handing him the trophy and updating the OWGR website just yet. But it will likely take some combination of a meltdown and low round from someone in the chase pack to prevent a Koepka coronation Sunday in South Korea.

Thirteen under for the week, the three-time major champion will start the final round four shots ahead of his playing partners, Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, and five ahead of six more players at minus-8.

As is his nature, Poulter figures to be undaunted. The 42-year-old is fresh off a Sunday singles victory over Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup and in the midst of a career renaissance, having broken a five-year winless drought earlier this year. In one sense, it's Europe vs. the United States again, but this isn't match play, and Koepka, a guy who doesn't need a head start, has spotted himself a four-shot advantage.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


"Tomorrow I'm going to need to make a few birdies. Obviously Brooks is in cruise control right now and obviously going to need a shoot a low one," Poulter conceded. "Do what I'm doing, just enjoy [it]. Obviously try and make as many birdies as I can and see how close we get."

Perez, in the group at 8 under par, isn't giving up, but like Poulter, he's aware of the reality of his situation.

"We're chasing Brooks, who of course obviously is playing phenomenally," he said. "A lot of the long hitters now when they get in contention, they hit that driver and they're really hard to catch. I'm not worried about it too much. It's going to be harder for me tomorrow than him, so I'm going to try and go out and just do my thing, hit some shots, hopefully hit some close and make some putts and we'll see. I don't expect him to come backwards, but hopefully I can try to go catch him."

Gary Woodland, also 8 under par, summed up the predicament best when he alluded to Koepka's perhaps advantageously aloof demeanor.

"You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can," he said. "You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number."

Getty Images

Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


"It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, considering his status a three-time major winner and an impending No. 1, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major; his only regular Tour win to date was his first, at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

"My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

Getty Images

Koepka ahead by four, with No. 1 ranking in his grasp

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Piercy (-9), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One off the lead to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Round of the day: After contending last week at the CIMB, Shubankhar Sharma rebounded from opening rounds of 74 and 75 with a nine-birdie, 8-under 64 to move up 45 spots into a tie for 26th through 54 holes.

Best of the rest: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.