With Donald Trump in attendance, U.S. Women's Open could be unlike any other major

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With Donald Trump in attendance, U.S. Women's Open could be unlike any other major

LPGA Tour

With Donald Trump in attendance, U.S. Women's Open could be unlike any other major

BEDMINSTER, N.J. – American Angela Stanford will compete in her 18th U.S. Women’s Open this week at Trump National Golf Club. In her mind though, she feels like a rookie.

That’s because with President Donald Trump involved, this could be a major unlike any other.

“I think there are going to be a lot more eyes on us,” said Stanford, “and I think that’s good.”

President Trump is expected to make an appearance at the U.S. Women’s Open over the weekend, according to several sources. In fact, there’s talk he might even be involved in the trophy presentation on Sunday.

Players have been told to expect protestors.  The designated protest zone is 3 miles away at a local library.

Stacy Lewis has no problem with that, so long as they don’t interfere with golf.

“You know what? We live in the greatest country in the world, and you’re allowed to have an opinion,” said Lewis. “You’re allowed to have different views. You can’t stop people from doing that.”

From the moment players drive on property at Trump National, they’ll notice heightened security measures.

“Did you drive in the main gate?” asked Lewis. “There’s a metal thing you have to go over. It looks like the kind of thing where they must be able to press a button and bars come out, so if someone got past all the security guys, they’d be able to stop them.”

Security at the walk-in gates resemble an airport – bag searches, metal detectors, wands.

Brittany Lincicome noted that players can’t take the plastic to-go boxes of out dining.

“Secret service says it’s not allowed,” she said.

First Lady Melania Trump arrived at a condo on property Sunday. It’s believed that President Trump will arrive by helicopter later in the week, as he did at the 2015 Ricoh Women’s British Open at Trump Turnberry.

Lincicome was on the course when Trump, then a candidate, landed with great fanfare at Turnberry on the morning of the first round. She was actually looking forward to riding in that same helicopter for media day last year but said it was out of commission after being hit by a bird.

“I was so bummed,” she said. “I’ve never been in a helicopter.”

Donald Trump arrives in a helicopter at Trump International Golf Links on June 25, 2016 in Aberdeen, Scotland. (Getty Images)

Lincicome took heat after telling a reporter from the Chicago Tribune at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship that she hoped Trump didn’t show up at the U.S. Women’s Open. Lincicome posted on Twitter on Sunday that she would be taking a break from social media because of all the political talk on her timeline. Time to focus.

On Monday by the putting green at Trump National, Lincicome compared this week’s lead-up to the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst No. 2, where the women followed the men in back-to-back weeks on the same course.

“We were worried about playing after the men a few years ago,” said Lincicome, “and we thought that might be a debacle, and it turned out totally fine.”

Many have asked why LPGA players don’t boycott this event.

For starters, it’s the biggest tournament of the year. It’s the biggest purse ($5 million) of the year. And for every player who might decide to sit out, someone would take her place.

“It’s my national open,” said Stanford. “I’m an American. From the day that I started playing golf I wanted to win my national open. … For me, it’s not political. For me, it’s golf.”

Players will be responding to questions about Trump all week, and mostly it’s a lose-lose proposition (i.e. Lincicome having to get off twitter).

Rather than dwell on the ways Trump’s presence might detract from this week’s event, what about focusing on the extra attention these women will receive?

Some will tune in to watch a perceived train wreck, and stumble upon a world-class sporting event. The LPGA, for several years now, has delivered one compelling major after another. Yet the tour remains undervalued.

Two years ago at the Solheim Cup, Norway’s Suzann Pettersen was accused of unsportsmanlike behavior early Sunday morning. Those who tuned in to catch that drama, were treated to a spectacular come-from-behind victory for Team USA.

Perhaps something similar will transpire on Sunday, giving naysayers something else to talk about.

“This is our biggest opportunity,” said Lewis. “How can we turn down that opportunity? I don’t think a lot of people understand that.”

See you at the circus.

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