There was a big cheer at the 15th green around 5:20 p.m. on Friday, though nothing happening on the course was worthy of the noise.
Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis and Brooke Henderson, maybe the most notable group playing at the U.S. Women’s Open on Friday, were finishing out the hole. But spectators were peering up at President Trump, who was in an elevated, enclosed viewing area that overlooked Trump National Golf Club.
Trump arrived at the club around 3:40 p.m., marking his fourth visit since he was inaugurated in January. There had been speculation of a visit throughout the week, and his arrival from France, where he held meetings and attended Bastille Day festivities with French President Emmanuel Macron, became imminent Friday morning.
Few fans showed interest when he first arrived at the course in a steady rain, but they were now craning their necks, snapping iPhone photos and pleading for Trump to return their waves. The potential of Trump’s arrival had overshadowed the tournament at times throughout the week. Now, only a small handful of fans watched as Thompson, Lewis and Henderson holed out on 15th and started their walk to the next tee box.
Asked after the round if she had noticed where fans’ attention was directed, Thompson said with a smile, “Yeah, not toward the golf.”
Trump’s visit marked the first time a sitting president had attended a U.S. Women’s Open. The U.S. Golf Association, which awarded the tournament to the Bedminster club in 2012, has been criticized for not moving the event, the richest and most prestigious in women’s golf. Players mostly avoided the topic in the days before the event, yet some saw positives in the president’s appearance Friday.
“Regardless of your political affiliation and whether you are a fan of Trump or you’re not a fan of Trump, having a president at a women’s golf event is pretty remarkable,” American golfer Marina Alex said after finishing her round. “It’s going to draw attention to women’s golf that has maybe never been in our favor before.
The Washington Post