BEDMINSTER, N.J. (AP) — Shanshan Feng increased her lead in the U.S. Women’s Open and lost the spotlight.
It happens when the president of the United States shows up.
Returning from a short trip to France, President Donald Trump pulled into his Trump National Golf Club on Friday in middle of the second round of the biggest tournament in women’s golf. A few hours later, he watched from an enclosed glass box next to the 14th green and stole the show.
While Trump waved at the fans, gave them the thumbs-up and pumped his fist, three of the top players — Lexi Thompson, Brooke Henderson and Stacy Lewis — were putting on the green.
As they worked, the more than 100 or so fans looked at the president.
Thompson noticed where the attention had gone.
“Not toward the golf,” she said matter of factly.
Henderson, a Canadian, didn’t seem to mind.
“It’s really amazing that the president of the United States is here to watch us play golf and on a tremendous golf course,” said Henderson, who was tied for 10th place. “I’m really excited and it was a great opportunity.”
The USGA, which awarded this event to Trump in 2012, took a lot of criticism for failing to move the tournament when comments made by Trump about women came to light in the past year.
It also was suggested that if the president attended the event it would take the spotlight from the players.
It did Friday when he became the first sitting president to attend a U.S. Women’s Open. Warren G. Harding (1921) and Bill Clinton (1997) were the only other sitting presidents to attend USGA events, going to the U.S. Open.
Feng was the star on the course for the second straight day. The 27-year-old Chinese player shot a 2-under 70 and had a 36-hole total of 8-under 136 on the 6,732-yard course that played even longer because of rain over the past two days. Feng, who has had one bogey in 36 holes, didn’t see Trump.
“I heard people like kind of screaming so that’s what I was trying to find out, like why they were screaming,” she said. “But I was still really focusing on my game. I didn’t really get distracted.”
Amy Yang of South Korea remained in second place, although her deficit grew to two shots after a 71. Yang has four top-five finishes in the event in the past five years.
“I like where I am positioned right now,” Yang said. “I’m really looking forward to play the weekend. I’m hitting good and I’m putting good and I’m feeling good about my game right now.”
Jeongeun6 Lee, who has a victory and 10 top-10 finishes this season on the KLPGA Tour, shared second after posting a second straight 69.
Lee uses the “6’’ after her first name because there are six other South Korean players with the same name.
Hye-Jin Choi, a 17-year-old from South Korea who is the world’s second-ranked amateur, also was at 6 under after a second straight 69. She was tied with Feng at 8 under after 15 holes, but bogeyed two of her next three holes to fall back.
Choi said her goal this week was to make the cut.
“So, I’m already very happy with what I’m doing and I’m not going to feel any pressure,” she said through an interpreter. “Just here to have fun.”
Only one amateur has won the Women’s Open: Catherine Lacoste of France in 1967.
Seon Woo Bae, a winner in South Korea last year, was alone in fifth place at 5 under after a 69.
Top-ranked So Yeon Ryu (72) and 2015 winner In Gee Chun (70) topped the group at 4 under, while Marina Alex (70) of Wayne, New Jersey, was the top American at 3 under. Henderson (71) and Lydia Ko (73) also were 3 under.
Michelle Wie withdrew because of a neck injury. The 2014 winner shot a 73 on Thursday and stopped on her second hole Friday.
Among those missing the cut at 2 over were Brittany Lincicome, who said two weeks ago that Trump should not attend the tournament so the focus would be on the players, and Danielle Kang, who two weeks ago won the KPMG Women’s PGA. Lincicome finished at 5 over and called her week horrible.
Second-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn and two-time Open champion Inbee Park also missed the cut.