China’s Feng Shanshan overcomes rain and Donald Trump visit to extend US Women’s Open lead

Olympic champion cards second round of two-under par 70 to move two shots clear of South Korean trio Lee Jeong-eun6, Amy Yang and Choi Hye-jin

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 July, 2017, 10:46am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 July, 2017, 10:51am

China’s Feng Shanshan shook off persistent rain and the commotion of a presidential visit on Friday to fire a two-under par 70 and stretch her US Women’s Open lead to two strokes.

Feng carded three birdies and a bogey to move onto eight-under-par after 36 holes at Trump National Golf Club.

That was good enough for a two-stroke lead over South Korea’s Lee Jeong-eun6, Amy Yang and Choi Hye-jin.

Choi, a 17-year-old amateur, teed off on 10 and joined Feng at the top of the leaderboard after a burst of four straight birdies in the middle of her round, but she faded with two lates bogeys to join her compatriots on six-under.

Lee, last year’s Korean rookie of the year playing her first tournament in the United States, set an early target with a second straight 69 on a rainy morning.

Watch: US Women’s Open second round highlights

She was eventually joined by Choi and Yang, who went into the second round one stroke behind Feng and fired a second-round 71.

Feng said she wasn’t bothered by the sometimes heavy rain that fell through much of her round, and she didn’t get too distracted to the arrival of US President Donald Trump, who has made his namesake club in Bedminster a frequent weekend retreat this summer.

China golf star Feng Shanshan shrugs off jet lag to roar into lead at US Women’s Open

Trump arrived in a motorcade fresh from a Bastille Day trip to Paris, and watched from an enclosed viewing area near the 15th green, offering a few waves for cheering fans who eagerly snapped his picture.

“I heard people like kind of screaming, so that’s what I was trying to find out, like why they were screaming,” Feng said of the movement around the green, where marshals had to remind the gallery that play was continuing.

Watch: Donald Trump at the US Women’s Open

“But I was still really focusing on my game. I didn’t really get distracted.”

Trump’s visit marked the first time a sitting president has attended the US Women’s Open, and the US Golf Association was unrepentantly welcoming despite the controversy sparked by Trump’s controversial remarks about women during his presidential campaign.

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While there were fears his visit would spark protests, fans at the course were supportive and players apparently unfazed.

The morning rain following on the heels of Thursday thunderstorms that disrupted play and caused the first round to be carried over until Friday morning was more of a challenge.

Watch: Rain during the second round of the US Women’s Open

Feng coped admirably, playing her first 10 holes in even par, with one birdie and one bogey, before back-to-back birdies at the 11th and 12th.

“I played probably the first nine holes in the rain, but my phone told me it was going to rain all afternoon and I was prepared,” she said. “I really didn’t pay attention to the weather and just concentrated on every shot.”

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The rain-soaked course did play longer, Feng said, which she admitted “made me feel like I was older”.

Among Feng’s closest pursuers, Yang is seeking a first major title after 16 top-10 finishes.

Lee, with the ‘6’ in her name distinguishing her from five other Korean players with the same name, is hoping to make a splash in her first US tournament.

Choi, the second-ranked amateur in the world, is also hoping to stay in the hunt at the weekend for what would be a sensational major win.

The trio sharing second were followed by another South Korean, with Bae Seon-woo alone in fifth after a 69.

World number one Ryu So-yeon carded an even par 72 to join four players sharing sixth that also included South Korean Chun In-gee, Japan’s Haru Nomura and Spain’s Carlota Ciganda.