12 Jul 2017

Ko not getting political ahead of US Open

12:10 pm on 12 July 2017

Golfers have refused to make any political statements ahead of the U.S. Women's Open which tees off at the Trump National course in New Jersey tomorrow night.

All the leading contenders, New Zealand's Lydia Ko among them, have offered the same message they're in there to play golf not talk politics.

Ko the former world number says while she has she's simply excited to be playing at the event and is not thinking about it in a political way.

"I have my opinion and everybody is free to have their own opinion," said Ko.

"But for me, I think I'm just going to have a great week here, enjoy it."

New Zealand golfer Lydia Ko

New Zealand golfer Lydia Ko Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Yet a Trump cloud hung over the pastoral setting where the course routed through rolling farmland and horse pastures will be the battleground for 156 players contesting the third women's major of the year.

The U.S. Golf Association (USGA) named Trump's Bedminster course in 2012 as host for the 2017 Women's Open, long before the golf-loving real estate magnate and reality TV star officially entered the political arena.

Campaign rhetoric and revelations that many found to be misogynistic created an uproar, particularly among women's rights activists, and hundreds of thousands of women filled the streets of several major U.S. cities in mass protests the day after the inauguration of President Trump.

President Donald Trump speaks at a rally on June 21, 2017 in Cedar Rapids

President Donald Trump. Photo: AFP

But the U.S. governing body for golf stuck by their choice.

USA Today has reported that then-candidate Trump threatened to sue the USGA if the championship was taken away from Bedminster.

The USGA declined comment.

"As a matter of policy, the terms of our contracts with championship host sites are confidential and accordingly the USGA will not comment," they said in a statement.

American Michelle Wie, the 2014 Women's Open winner and a Stanford University graduate, said: "I take my role as a female role model very seriously. (But) this week is about the golf.

"I really want to focus on the golf part and I want to hopefully inspire a lot of young women and women in general hopefully with my game."

"I will not comment on any political part this week."

One prominent American golfer spoke out on the approaching major two weeks ago at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship.

Brittany Lincicome, a two-time major winner, said she hoped Trump stayed away from Bedminster during the championship.

"Hopefully he doesn't show up and it will be about us," she told the Chicago Tribune, instead of the limelight falling on the president.

Word this week that a temporary flight restriction notice was issued by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) for the Bedminster area during the tournament raised speculation Trump could be planning to drop in.

Championship director, Matt Sawicki said: "The only thing we know about the President's schedule is that he plans on attending a Bastille Day celebration in France on Friday. Beyond that we have not been told."

A local protest is expected to be staged off the course grounds at some point during the tournament.

Last month a women's advocacy group called UltraViolet protested during the men's U.S. Open in Wisconsin by flying a banner that read: "USGA/LPGA: TAKE A MULLIGAN, DUMP TRUMP."