Trump ap­pear­ance can’t over­shadow real sto­ry­lines at ladies golf show­case event

New York Post - - SPORTS -

DON­ALD Trump min­gled in the view­ing area be­hind the 16th tee, oc­ca­sion­ally wav­ing at the crowd be­low. Some waved back. Oth­ers sent their own mes­sage, like the group wear­ing pur­ple T-shirts that read: “USGA Dump Sex­ist Trump.”

Oth­ers sim­ply took pic­tures with their cell phones or pointed at the pres­i­dent, wear­ing his sig­na­ture red hat. Re­gard­less of pol­i­tics, see­ing the Pres­i­dent of the United States live and in per­son might be a once-in-a-life­time event, so you can’t blame those who had their backs to the golf, try­ing to get a glimpse of the world’s most pow­er­ful coun­try club owner. It’s just a shame they didn’t spend more time watch­ing the spec­tac­u­lar ac­tion that took place in the fi­nal round of the U.S. Women’s Open.

The women com­pet­ing at Trump Na­tional Bedminster had hoped this week would be about the golf and the golf course and not a de­bate about whether the USGA should have moved the tour­na­ment af­ter sex­ist re­marks made by Trump sur­faced dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

There were some who used the event to voice their con­tin­u­ing dis­plea­sure.

“Elect a clown ex­pect a cir­cus,” read one T-Shirt, while a row of women wore T-shirts that spelled out “Re­sist.” There was plenty of law en­force­ment, tot­ing ma­chine guns and such, around to keep things from get­ting out of hand, and by the time the last group headed for the back nine, Trump’s pres­ence be­came an af­ter­thought.

Fi­nally, it be­came all about the golf. That hap­pens when there’s a three-way tie af­ter 66 holes of a ma­jor cham­pi­onship. Sung Hyun Park, Hye-Jin Choi and Shan­shan Feng were all at 9-un­der par. Feng, a seven-time win­ner try­ing to be­come the first woman from the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China to cap­ture a U.S. Women’s Open, was du­el­ing Choi, the 17-year-old am­a­teur from South Korea, and Park, a power hit­ter look­ing for her first ma­jor.

The sto­ry­lines couldn’t have been bet­ter, es­pe­cially af­ter New

Jer­sey girl Ma­rina Alex fin­ished a dis­tant 4-un­der and lo­cal fa­vorite Christie Kerr faded to 1-un­der.

Choi was try­ing to be­come only the se­cond am­a­teur to win a Women’s Open and the first since Cather­ine La­coste of France in 1967. When her tee shot at the par-3 16th landed in the wa­ter, the chance to be the youngest player to win the tour­na­ment went with it.

“At the time, I felt all the hard work I had put to­gether had dis­ap­peared,” she said. “I was a bit dis­ap­pointed, but I had to re­fo­cus on the re­main­ing two holes.”

She birdied the 18th hole as if to say: “This is just the begin­ning.” That could be said for the en­tire women’s game if this U.S. Women’s Open is a sign of things to come. Park is just 23 and Choi is 17 go­ing on 23.

The am­a­teur may have not cashed a check, but she pock­eted a spe­cial mem­ory.

“It would be nice if I could get the money,” she said. “But I think my pri­mary goal was to come here and com­pete, so get­ting se­cond place ac­tu­ally means more to me. I’m not re­ally fo­cus­ing on the prize money for now.”

It was ap­pro­pri­ate early in the week to ques­tion the USGA whether it should have played a tour­na­ment here in light of the pres­i­dent’s com­ments, par­tic­u­larly a women’s tour­na­ment. The play­ers said they wanted to play. Pol­i­tics aside, Bedminster proved a wor­thy venue, and Park emerged a wor­thy cham­pion. That’s all these ladies wanted.

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