Donald Trump, to no one’s surprise, became the story of the day when he and his entourage arrived Friday afternoon at one of his summer White Houses, Trump National Bedminster, which is hosting this week’s U.S. Women’s Open.
While the president waved at, pointed to, and fist-pumped his supporters as he took his place in his glass-enclosed viewing area beside the 15th green and 16th tee, the golfers trying to win the most prestigious event on the women’s schedule gamely played on in the second round, though they were clearly the supporting cast to Trump’s theatrics.
“Not towards the golf,” Lexi Thompson told reporters later about where the fans’ attention was as she and playing partners Brooke Henderson and Stacy Lewis were putting on No. 15.
Check this out!— Corryn (@Corrynmb) July 14, 2017
President Trump greets supporters at U.S. Women's Open! pic.twitter.com/96YiTzrPwa
“I could tell at the par-5 on the end there's a lot of people around the suite, so I figured he was up there and watching. Unfortunately I didn't hit the best shot in front of him,” said Thompson, who described as “a good time” the many times she has teed it up with Trump.
“Honestly, I just was trying to focus on my shot,” said Thompson, who will start the weekend at 1-under.
The USGA selected the Bedminster, N.J., track as the host course for this year’s Women’s Open in 2012 long before Trump announced his intention to run for president. The organization’s decision came under fire and demands to move the tourney grew after a tape surfaced on which Trump boasted about sexually assaulting women.
Protests slamming Trump and the USGA for staging the crown jewel of women’s golf at a course owned by what demonstrators call “a self-admitted serial sexual predator and unapologetic misogynist” began on Friday and will continue throughout the weekend. But that did not stop Trump from becoming the first sitting president to attend the women’s event and hogging the spotlight from the competitors.
“I heard people like kind of screaming so that’s what I was trying to find out, like why they were screaming,” tourney leader Shanshan Feng said after carding a second-round 2-under 70. “But I was still really focusing on my game. I didn’t really get distracted.”
It was not just the play on the field that Trump disrupted. Ryan O’Toole, who said she was happy to finish her round before the president’s arrival, noted that she allowed 20 additional minutes to get through security and to the course.
“I'm glad to be done before he shows up,” said O’Toole, who just made the cut and sits at 2-over for the week. “I think anytime a president shows up at any venue, golf tournament or not, it's going to be chaotic, whether it be the choppers that come flying in or the Secret Service or the excitement of the crowd. I'm glad that I can now sit back and watch.”
Trump touched down at about 2:45 p.m. ET at Newark airport after flying in from France. His motorcade got to the course about an hour later and arrived at his box at about 5:20, according to multiple reports.
Inbee Park’s caddie took note of the hubbub surrounding POTUS as he and Park got to the 18th green.
“It was kind of funny walking up to the green,” Brad Beecher told Randall Mell. “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.”
And so it went, as Trump stole the show from the players, much to the delight of the spectators who shouted encouragement to their president.
Oh, and for the record, Brittany Lincicome, who took heat for saying two weeks ago that she hoped Trump would not attend the event and distract from the players, missed the cut.
In other news, Feng took a three-shot lead over a trio of players heading into Saturday at Donald Trump’s U.S. Women’s Open.