2017-07-14 21:23:02
At U.S. Women’s Open, Presidential Air Is Stirred by a Gust of Commotion

21:23, July 14 81 0

BEDMINSTER, N.J. — Lexi Thompson, the highest-ranked American in the women’s rankings, at No. 3, was preparing to hit her third shot, from just off the green, on the par-5 15th hole at Trump National Golf Club on Friday when she noticed that most of the fans in her gallery had their backs turned to her.

Thompson knew that could mean only one thing — her occasional playing partner in South Florida, President Trump, had arrived at the United States Women’s Open. He was back from a diplomatic trip to Paris and was making his way to the makeshift fishbowl of a suite adorned with red, white and blue bunting that had been erected for him at the course, which he owns.

With the president watching from his perch a few yards away, Thompson hurried her chip.

“I didn’t have the best shot in front of him,” she said with a laugh after her second round of even-par 72. She is seven shots behind the second-round leader, Shanshan Feng of China.

Trump’s presence was the first time that a sitting president had made an appearance at the United States Women’s Open, so no one was surprised that his arrival overshadowed the golf. The group playing directly ahead of Thompson’s became stuck in traffic when Trump’s motorcade passed the clubhouse, which sits between the ninth green and the 10th tee.

Alison Walshe and Lauren Stephenson, both Americans, and Weiwei Zhang of China were held for six minutes by security personnel under a makeshift shelter before being allowed to proceed.

As the same players hit their tee shots at the par-3 16th, fans stood on the balcony of the clubhouse and around the base of Trump’s suite and shouted, “Make America great again!” — among other things. Trump stood at the windows and waved.

“It was definitely a little distracting,” said Stephenson, a 20-year-old amateur who is at even par through 36 holes. “We had a lot of people yelling and just a lot of movement, but it’s pretty cool to be in the presence of the president, so I guess he gets a pass.”