Attention for Women’s British Open ‘Trump’ed by owner of golf course

July 29, 2015
The Women's British Open has the world's top players vying for a major win, but Donald Trump, who owns the Turnberry golf course, is in many ways a bigger media fixture than the event.(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

The Women’s British Open has the world’s top players vying for a major win, but Donald Trump, who owns the Turnberry golf course, is in many ways a bigger media fixture than the event.(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

TURNBERRY, Scotland (AP) — Inbee Park resuming her quest for the career Grand Slam. Teenage prodigy Lydia Ko seeking that elusive first major. Michelle Wie going for victory with an injured left foot.

The story lines at the Women’s British Open this week are abundant and compelling, yet much of the pre-tournament chatter has focused on the owner of the course staging the event in this village in western Scotland rather than the players involved.

The championship is at Turnberry, a resort and course owned by American businessman Donald Trump, who will attend the first round Thursday. Trump is rarely out of the headlines lately because of comments he is making during his presidential campaign.

In one particular remark, the Republican contender said some Mexican immigrants bring drugs and crime to the U.S., and some are rapists. He brought golf into the issue by saying the sport’s governing bodies support his opinions because “they know I’m right.”

Suddenly, golf was stuck in a difficult position, in the face of a figure who has poured so much money into the sport and has 18 courses in his portfolio, including Turnberry since last year.

The PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, U.S. Golf Association and PGA of America said Trump’s comments were “inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment.” Players mostly have kept their thoughts about Trump to themselves. Significant fallout has been limited to the PGA of America moving October’s Grand Slam of Golf from Trump’s golf course in Los Angeles.

The Women’s British Open keeps golf’s links with Trump in the spotlight. He will detour from his election campaigning in the United States to attend the first round of the women’s major.

“I’ll go for two days & back on trail,” Trump tweeted Monday.

He and the circus he brings overshadow the event.

“It really distracts us from the great tournament that we have this week,” Wie said. “There’s a lot of things that happen beyond our control, beyond what I can do or you can do. I just think that what I can control this week is how I play, and I’m just really excited to be here.”

On the course, the top-ranked Park is looking to add the British Open to the three American-based majors she has already won, thus completing the career slam, and taking her overall haul of majors to seven. The Evian Championship became the fifth major in women’s golf in 2013 and Park has won that tournament, in 2012.

“The true Grand Slam would be winning the British Open,” Park said. “That’s really my main goal.”

Park has won three tournaments on the LPGA Tour this year — most recently the Women’s PGA Championship in June — to reclaim the No. 1 ranking from the 18-year-old Ko. But the South Korean arrives in Scotland with lower back pain after her trans-Atlantic flight and a 5-over 76 in her last competitive round, at the Meijer LPGA Classic in Michigan on Sunday.

“It’s the time of year where I’m not really hitting it great … but I’m just trying to play through it,” said Park, who is playing Turnberry for the first time. “I come into this week with no expectations.”

Ko, a South Korea-born New Zealander, played the Ladies Scottish Open last week to get accustomed to links and the wind and rain that are set to be a feature at Turnberry.

It will be the 16th major for Ko, and she has missed a cut only once.

Asked how many majors she would like to have by the time she is 30, when she says she will retire, Ko said with a laugh: “I have no idea. Even one would be amazing.”

Wie already has one major in her collection, the U.S. Women’s Open last year, and her chances of a second are being hindered by a bone spur in her left foot that is forcing her to wear a protective boot when she’s not on the course.

“I’m just trying to get the inflammation down,” Wie said.

There are 34 U.S. players in the 144-woman field, and they will be looking to complete a hat trick of victories for Americans in this championship, after Stacy Lewis in 2013, and Mo Martin last year.

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