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Golf, politics colliding at U.S. Women’s Open at Trump National

You know the guy whose last name adorns the sparkling tower on the Chicago River in BIG BLOCK letters?

It’s getting mentioned a lot this week as golf and politics collide at Trump National, home of the U.S. Women’s Open, which begins Thursday in Bedminster, N.J.

The Palm Beach Post reported that based on a Federal Aviation Administration notice, President Trump is expected to be in New Jersey from Friday to Sunday.

It would be Trump’s fourth trip to Bedminster since taking office.

Since the profane “Access Hollywood” tape was made public in October, USGA officials have been taking heat for having selected the Trump course.

Activist groups such as UltraViolet have pushed the USGA to relocate the event, but executive director Mike Davis has stood firm, saying that the organization “makes decisions about where to host our championships based on the quality of the golf course, as well as the competition, fan experience and overall operations.”

Turns out there might be more to it. According to USA Today, Davis told members of USGA’s executive committee that President Trump threatened to sue the organization about two years ago if it moved the event. Davis declined to confirm or deny the report, telling the paper: “It would be inappropriate if I said that it happened or that it didn’t.”

If true, the threat of litigation would hardly come as a shock. A USA Today analysis found that over the past three decades, Trump and his businesses have been involved, either as plaintiff or defendant, in more than 4,000 lawsuits.

LPGA standout Brittany Lincicome spoke out to the Tribune two weeks ago at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship precisely because of this unwanted publicity. She didn’t rip the president on the morning that he tweeted that “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski is “crazy” with a “low I.Q” and was “bleeding badly from a face-lift.”

Rather, Lincicome said she wished Trump would not show up for the Open so “it won’t be a big debacle and it will be about us and not him … We’re going to play an amazing golf course and let our clubs do the talking.”

The two-time major winner also said that boycotting the event wasn’t feasible because she plays golf for a living and “we don’t get to play for that much money that often.”

The comments did not get much attention until John Daly stepped in. After Lincicome asked him on Twitter if he’d play in her charity golf outing, Daly replied: “Tough to do things when ppl down 1 of my grt friends? Sorry-Some things shouldn’t be said. He has as a grt heart & has America 1st always.”

Lincicome replied: “I just wanted our open to be about the golf and not politics. Of all people another pro golfer should understand that.”

A day later, Sunday, Lincicome wrote under “#sad”: “I will be off twitter this whole week. I never meant to offend anyone with my comments to the reporter last week. My point was I just want this week (the biggest week of the year) to be about the golf and not politics. And some of you still keep going on about it. I’m sorry to my close followers because I truly enjoy being on twitter and letting you know what’s going on in my life. (Especially when I go fishing.)”

Lincicome received dozens of positive replies and some negative ones, to which she asserted she has nothing against the president: “Just don’t want it to be a circus while we are trying (to) work.”

Most LPGA players have declined to chime in, but it’s no secret that many support him.

Veteran LPGA star Cristie Kerr has played golf with Trump but calls herself a “very, very casual acquaintance” of the president.

In an interview with the Tribune last month, she said: “He’s always done a lot for women’s golf. He let the entire tour, for like eight years, stay at Mar-a-Lago for free … He’s given multiple LPGA players, including myself, honorary memberships at all of his golf clubs.”

Kerr said Trump watched her play several holes at the 2015 Women’s British Open at Trump Turnberry, in Scotland, “when it was pouring sideways.”

“He’s said some really stupid stuff, for sure,” Kerr said. “Haven’t we all? I mean, honestly. Did he ever think he was going to run for president of the United States? No. Does that excuse what he said? No. He came out, and he apologized. I mean, if your husband said something stupid to you, and he apologized about it, you forgive him.”

tgreenstein@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @TeddyGreenstein


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