TURNBERRY, Scotland (AP) — Donald Trump turned a brief trip to a golf tournament in Scotland into an extension of his presidential campaign trail when he attended the Women’s British Open at his plush Turnberry resort on Thursday.
The first round of one of the high-profile events in women’s golf wound up being a mere sideshow from the moment the Republican arrived at the course with family members in his private helicopter, declaring “the world has asked me to be here.”
Questions to Trump were restricted to golf and his future plans for Turnberry, the world’s media had been warned.
It didn’t turn out that way.
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Wearing a red hat emblazoned with his campaign slogan “Make America Great Again,” the billionaire celebrity businessman spoke of how he would “get along very well” with Russian President Vladimir Putin and make the U.S military “so strong that nobody would mess with us,” if he became president.
Trump, whose grandmother was born in Scotland, also weighed in on British politics, saying he hoped there would not be another independence referendum in Scotland for 50 years because of the “bedlam and confusion” created by last year’s vote.
Trump’s provocative comments on topics like immigration have commanded lots of media attention and attracted rising poll numbers, and he said he would continue stating his strong views because “we’re so politically correct in our country that people are sick and tired of things not getting done.”
For the golf industry, though, his comments have been problematic.
The Women’s British Open, the fourth of five major championships, is the biggest event to be staged at one of Trump’s 18 golf properties since his disparaging comments about Mexicans during his presidential campaign announcement last month. Trump said that some Mexican immigrants bring drugs and crime to the U.S., and some are rapists.
Golf authorities have distanced themselves from his remarks and an October tournament on one of Trump’s courses in Los Angeles — the Grand Slam of Golf — was moved.
It was too late, though, for a potential change in venue for the Women’s British Open, and Michelle Wie — one of the stars of the women’s tour — said this week she believes Trump’s presence at Turnberry will distract from the competition.
Certainly, all eyes were on Trump when his helicopter circled Turnberry twice, above the morning starters out on the course, before landing in front of the hotel at the luxurious resort he purchased last year.
“I was like, ‘Man, that’s a really nice helicopter,'” said No. 2-ranked Lydia Ko, who was playing the 16th hole at the time when she heard the whirring of Trump’s helicopter. “I would love one.”
After his news conference, Trump headed out onto the course to watch some action. He is scheduled to leave Turnberry on Friday and return to his campaign trail.
The way the polls are looking, Trump is set to be one of the 10 Republican candidates who will take the stage in Cleveland on Aug. 6 for the first debate of the Republican presidential campaign.
“I am who I am,” Trump said, holding out his hands. “I’ll show up and maybe I’ll do terrible, maybe I’ll do great.”