Henrik Stenson leads the LIV event but Donald Trump steals the circus limelight. Liv Golf Series

It didn’t take long for the barely hidden political undertones surrounding the LIV golf tournament at Donald Trump’s Bedminster Golf Club on Saturday afternoon to erupt.

Several hundred spectators filling the grandstand behind the first tee flared up “Four more years!” As the former US president emerged in a white polo shirt and red Make America Great Again cap, the leading group of Henrik Stenson, Patrick Reed and Phachara Khongwatmai reverberated across the field to watch as the horn shotgunned. After the start start your second round. quarter past one.

Several feet away, the chief executive and face of the controversial Saudi-financed breakaway tour raised the ceiling with a sly grin, embracing the rowdy atmosphere, even as it was deftly avoided by the official broadcast, which Up to 70,000 were streamed on YouTube. Viewers in the absence of a TV deal. And it was preceded by a surprise appearance by Marjorie Taylor Green, a far-right Republican congresswoman and self-proclaimed Christian nationalist from Georgia.

If Day One was a Diet Maga Rally, it was a Maga Classic. The crowd for Saturday’s second round of the 54-hole, no-cut tournament was slightly larger and decidedly louder than Friday’s opening season, when over 2,000 at Trump National’s 500-acre grounds in this central New Jersey farm town. Not many spectators turned up. 45 miles west of New York City. The previously deserted grandstands and grassy fields along the fairway were lined with fans as the mid-task of the $25m tournament was played under pristine blue skies and comfortable 88F (31C) temperatures.

United overnight leader Stenson shot a two-under-par 69 to extend his lead on the field to nine-under after being removed as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain last week, three strokes better than Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed. Four ahead of , Carlos Ortiz and Talor Gooch.

But it was the former US president who once again grabbed the headlines, even as the PGA Tour’s star-studded field of defectors formed the circuit together around the 7,591-yard Old Course. A relentless mass of several hundred supporters stationed outside the enclosed terrace next to the 16th T in the afternoon, where Trump took part in the second half of the day’s play. Many of them wore branded shirts with familiar slogans: Let’s go Brandon; Remember me?; Don’t blame me, I voted for Trump.

Fans watch the 10th green play from afar at Bedminster.
Fans watch the 10th green play from afar at Bedminster. Photo: Mike Stob/LIV Golf/Getty Images

His patience was rewarded when he finally emerged from the fish bowl for a delicious roar instant display God Bless America was joined by more conservative firebrand Taylor Green, who has cool angle For a spot on Trump’s 2024 ticket. The atmosphere was far more serene than a few hundred yards from the 514-yard, par-five First Tea, where a plaque and bouquet of white flowers marked the plot of fresh soil where Ivana Trump, the former president’s first wife, was interred. it was done. Week.

Trump’s illegal use of the presidential seal in his Bedminster club has drawn a stern stance from ethics watchdogs, but many other signposts from his White House tenure fall on the right side of federal law. anyone leaving their manga hat at home raise a At the Pro Shop: unsigned for $35, autographed for $500. Also for copies of his illustrated memoir, Our Journey Together, which goes for $75.

Critics accuse the Saudi government of using an alleged $2 billion investment in LIV Golf for the kingdom’s abhorrent human rights record, alleged ties to the September 11 attacks, severe repression of women’s and LGBTQ+ rights, and the 2018 killing of a disgruntled journalist. sportswash”. Jamal Khashoggi.

But while Washington’s chattering class has spent weeks contemplating whether Trump’s face to a regime he once accused of a role in 9/11, he will be at a political disadvantage. Of course, Saturday’s scenes revealed the question to be settled — with golf firmly remaining in the back seat.

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