An Ultra-Cool Winner, An Inspiring Amateur & The Elephant In The Skybox

For true fans of women's golf, this past Sunday at 2017 US Women's Open was stellar;  a picture perfect day, a course that challenged the best in the world and three players tied for the lead with just a half dozen holes left to play.

The chance of an amateur winning is always going to be tantalizing. It represents the possibility that athletic purity can best financial incentive.  It actually happened in 1967 when Cathrine Lacoste won the US Women's Open as a 22-year-old, and it looked like it could happen again for Hye-Jin Choi in Bedminster. She was one of the three in the aforementioned tie at the 66th hole of the Championship.

Shanshan Feng was another, the Olympic bronze medal winner held the lead for the first three rounds and was in line to become the first Chinese player to win the US Women's Open. She put up a valiant fight, but ultimately her putter failed her, and a triple bogey on the 18th dashed her chances of a playoff.

That playoff would have been against  LPGA Tour rookie, Sung Huyn Park, whose Sunday charge led to the win and her first LPGA Tour victory. As a long hitter with seven wins on the KLPGA her debut victory is not that surprising. Sung Huyn Park has a massive fan base and a personal style that reflects fierceness, determination and power.  On course she's remarkably deliberate. She's got a wrist tattoo, short hair and a long lean physique, her nickname is "Dak Gong", translation: "Shut up and attack". Quite possibly the coolest nickname ever.  Sung Huyn Park is formidable. She'll most certainly be Rookie of the Year and a force on the LPGA Tour for years to come.  Unfortunately, her remarkable win will not be what most remember about the 2107 US Open.  What will stand out when looking back at this championship will be the "elephant in the skybox" at Bedminster.

Though golfers, golf media and true golf fans attempted to overlook the distraction, it was for the general public, "so big you couldn't ignore it", and while there wasn't massive protest there was an underlying atmosphere of unease. There were some spectators wearing shirts with the pragmatic and now familiar message: "Elect a clown, expect a circus".  Others were less subtle, their shirts read USGA: Dump Sexist Trump.  Security was intense and kept the protesters at bay, but the galleries, for the most part, were focused on the skybox.