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TURNBERRY, Scotland – Inbee Park resuming her quest for the career Grand Slam. Teenage prodigy Lydia Ko seeking that elusive first major. Michelle Wie going for victory with an injured left foot.
The story lines at the Women's British Open this week are abundant and compelling, yet much of the pre-tournament chatter has focused on the location of the event in this village in western Scotland rather than who is going to win it.
The championship is at Turnberry, a resort and course owned by American businessman Donald Trump, who is rarely out of the headlines lately because of comments he is making during his Republican election campaign for the U.S. presidency.
In one particular remark, Trump said some Mexicans 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.
Turnberry keeps golf's links with Trump in the spotlight. Trump will detour from his election campaigning in the United States to attend the first round of the women's major on Thursday.
"I'll go for two days & back on trail," Trump tweeted Monday.
He and the circus he brings overshadow the event.
"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. I just think that what I can control this week is how I play, and I'm just really excited to be here."
On the course, 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. Park won that tournament in 2012.
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, slightly easing the pressure on the Korea-born New Zealander at Turnberry.
Ko 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, with the forecast pretty bleak.
It will be the 16th major for Ko, and she has missed a cut only once.
Asked how many majors she would like to have by age 30, when she says she will retire, Ko said with a laugh: "I have no idea. Even one would be amazing."
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.
"I'm just trying to get the inflammation down," Wie said.
There are 34 U.S. players in the 144-woman field, and they will be looking to complete a hat trick of victories for Americans in this championship, after Stacy Lewis in 2013, and Mo Martin last year.