BEDMINSTER, N.J. — By Sunday, there will be an immense amount to win for golfers in the U.S. Women’s Open, starting with the winner’s share of the $5 million total purse and the chance to live in golf lore. For now, though, there is a lot to lose, which is why the players said they are determinedly quiet about President Donald Trump, whose name is all over the host course.
As they finished practicing for the championship that begins here Thursday at Trump National Golf Club, golfers were not about to start talking about anything but golf.
“There’s no benefit to us,” said Cristie Kerr, the 2007 Women’s Open champion and an acquaintance of the President. “Whatever we say can be taken out of context. We are here to just play golf. We are here to talk about a fabulous golf course.
“Yes, Mr. President, Mr. Donald Trump owns this golf course. But that was set a long time ago,” she said.
Juli Inkster, a two-time Women’s Open champion who is here working for the Fox Network, said, “It’s a no-win situation. I’m the kind of person who loves a math problem — when you get done you’ve got a set answer. Everybody has their own opinion, I think that’s a great part of being an American. I don’t preach my opinion on anybody and I really don’t want them to preach their opinion on myself.
“I know zero about politics. If you want to talk sports, I’m all in. But if I don’t really know the subject, I don’t think I should get in a debate with anybody,” Inkster said.
LPGA pros are aware there is a strong possibility Trump will become the third sitting president to attend a U.S. Golf Association championship, following Warren Harding and Bill Clinton at the 1921 and 1997 U.S. Open men’s tournaments, respectively. The golfers also know that protests are planned (the Clarence Dillon Public Library, four miles east of the course on Lamington Road, is the designated site).
They are keenly aware of what happened after two-time major champion Brittany Lincicome recently told the Chicago Tribune that she hopes Trump will stay away, so that “it won’t be a big debacle and it will be about us and not him.” That caused a Twitter firestorm, including a brusque reply from golfer John Daly, a Trump supporter. Lincicome subsequently shut down her Twitter account for the week.
“I will say Brittany is my best friend and I guarantee you she didn’t mean it literally, what she said,” defending champion Brittany Lang said. “She’s the nicest, sweetest girl you’ll meet. She’s not very political. I think everybody is taking it too literally.”
Lang summed up the feeling of the field when she said, “I really don’t want to answer any questions about politics. I’d love to answer stuff about golf.”