By Larry Fine
BEDMINSTER, New Jersey (Reuters) - The U.S. Golf Association would neither confirm nor deny a report on Tuesday that then U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump threatened to sue them if they decided to move the U.S. Women's Open from his Bedminster course.
The report by USA Today, using an unnamed source with direct knowledge of the meeting, said USGA executive director Mike Davis informed the group's executive committee of Trump's threats while on a 2015 conference call.
"As a matter of policy, the terms of our contracts with championship host sites are confidential and accordingly the USGA will not comment," the USGA said in a statement on Tuesday.
"We are excited that our U.S. Women’s Open Championship week has begun and are focused on providing the ultimate test of golf for the best female players in the world."
Calls for moving the 72-hole tournament, which begins on Thursday, followed controversial comments on women made by Trump during his campaign.
The day after January's inauguration of President Trump, hundreds of thousands of women filled the streets of several major U.S. cities in mass protests, galvanized by his campaign rhetoric and behavior they found to be misogynistic.
Last month a women's advocacy group called UltraViolet protested during the men's U.S. Open in Wisconsin by flying a banner that read: "USGA/LPGA: TAKE A MULLIGAN, DUMP TRUMP."
A local protest is expected to be staged off the Trump National Golf Club grounds at some point during the tournament.
The year's third major women's championship features 156 players, including 10 former champions, and will be played on a Tom Fazio-designed course routed through more than 500 acres of rolling farmland and horse pastures.
(Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Andrew Both)