TURNBERRY, Scotland (AP) — Lizette Salas should be midway through her first round at the Women’s British Open on Thursday morning when Donald Trump arrives via helicopter to expected fanfare at his Turnberry resort.
Salas, a U.S golfer with Mexican heritage, likely won’t pay much attention.
Not because she holds a grudge at Trump’s derogatory remarks about Mexicans that have dominated the pre-tournament chatter at the fourth major of the year. Quite simply, Salas will have more important things on her mind.
“He can say what he wants,” the 26-year-old Salas said Wednesday. “It does not change the way I feel about myself, about my heritage. I’m very proud of my parents and where my grandparents are from.
“Regardless of what he said, that’s my goal – to hold up that trophy.”
There are a number of compelling story lines at the Women’s British Open in western Scotland this week: Inbee Park resuming her quest for the career Grand Slam; 18-year-old prodigy Lydia Ko seeking that elusive first major; Michelle Wie going for victory with an injured left foot.
Yet, they are all being overshadowed, for now at least, by the scheduled presence of Trump and the staging of the event at a course he owns.
Trump is rarely out of the headlines lately because of comments he is making during his U.S. presidential campaign. In one particular remark, the Republican contender said some Mexican immigrants bring drugs and crime to the U.S., and some are rapists. He brought golf into the issue by saying the sport’s governing bodies support his opinions because “they know I’m right.”
Suddenly, golf was stuck in a difficult position, in the face of a figure who has poured so much money into the sport and has 18 courses in his portfolio, including Turnberry since last year.
The PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, U.S. Golf Association and PGA of America said Trump’s comments were “inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment.” Players mostly have kept their thoughts about Trump to themselves. Significant fallout has been limited to the PGA of America moving October’s Grand Slam of Golf from Trump’s golf course in Los Angeles.
The Women’s British Open keeps golf’s links with Trump in the spotlight, though. And he will detour from his election campaigning in the United States to attend the first round before returning Friday.
“I’ll go for two days & back on trail,” Trump tweeted Monday.
Trump will bring a circus some players would prefer not to see.
“It really distracts us from the great tournament that we have this week,” Wie said. “There’s a lot of things that happen beyond our control, beyond what I can do or you can do.”
Salas is shrugging off Trump’s comments, despite saying that “a lot of people listen to him and hear his words because he’s a big name.”
Her father, Ramon, immigrated to the United States from Mexico. He was responsible for getting his daughter into golf at age 7 and he will be cheering her on at Turnberry this week.
“He’s just my big support system,” the 29th-ranked Salas said. “Without him, I wouldn’t be here.”
The top-ranked Park is looking to add the British Open to the three American-based majors she has already won, thus completing the career slam, and taking her overall haul of majors to seven. The Evian Championship became the fifth major in women’s golf in 2013 and Park has won that tournament, in 2012.
“The true Grand Slam would be winning the British Open,” Park said. “That’s really my main goal.”
Park has won three tournaments on the LPGA Tour this year – most recently the Women’s PGA Championship in June – to reclaim the No. 1 ranking from the 18-year-old Ko. But the South Korean arrives in Scotland with lower back pain after her trans-Atlantic flight and a 5-over 76 in her last competitive round, at the Meijer LPGA Classic in Michigan on Sunday.
“It’s the time of year where I’m not really hitting it great … but I’m just trying to play through it,” said Park, who is playing Turnberry for the first time. “I come into this week with no expectations.”
Ko, a South Korea-born New Zealander who is the world No. 2, played the Ladies Scottish Open last week to get accustomed to links and the wind and rain that are set to be a feature at Turnberry.
It will be the 16th major for Ko. She has missed a cut only once, but never won.
Wie already has one major in her collection, the U.S. Women’s Open last year, and her chances of a second are being hindered by a bone spur in her left foot that is forcing her to wear a protective boot when she’s not on the course.