Former President Donald Trump says professional golfers will “pay a big price” if they don’t join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf International Series now.
“All of those golfers that remain ‘loyal’ to the very disloyal PGA, in all of its different forms, will pay a big price when the inevitable MERGER with LIV comes, and you get nothing but a big ‘thank you’ from PGA officials who are making Millions of Dollars a year,” Trump wrote on Truth Social in July. His post came just a day after some 9/11 victims’ families urged Trump to “reconsider” events with LIV Golf.
LIV Golf was founded by former pro golfer Greg Norman to challenge the PGA Tour, and is funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. The league is an eight-tournament circuit that features seven regular-season tournaments and one team event in October.It will be hosted at golf courses near Boston, Chicago and Miami in the United States — one event was already held in Portland, Ore. — and internationally in Thailand and Saudi Arabia (one event has already taken place in the United Kingdom).
Additionally, the circuit played an event in New Jersey, playing a tournament at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster in July. Its final event, starting on Oct. 27, will be hosted by Trump National Doral.
But family members of people who perished during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City urged Trump to cancel two upcoming events that his golf courses are hosting in partnership with LIV Golf.
“‘It is incomprehensible to us, Mr. Trump, that a former president of the United States would cast our loved ones aside for personal financial gain.’”
“It is incomprehensible to us, Mr. Trump, that a former president of the United States would cast our loved ones aside for personal financial gain,” the letter stated.
“We simply cannot understand how you could agree to accept money from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s golf league to host their tournament at your golf course, and to do so in the shadows of ground zero in New Jersey, which lost over 700 residents during the attacks,” the letter continued.
According to the New York Times, the letter also outlined a 2016 Fox News interview where Trump said, “Who blew up the World Trade Center? It wasn’t the Iraqis. It was Saudi. Take a look at Saudi Arabia.” Trump added, “The people came, most of the people came from Saudi Arabia. They didn’t come from Iraq.”
Representatives for former President Trump did not respond to requests for comment on this story, and have not responded to the letter from 9/11 Justice, group president Brett Eagleson told the Times.
Many high-profile golfers — including Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, and Patrick Reed — have also been criticized for joining LIV Golf.
Phil Mickelson was reportedly offered $200 million just to play in the league, and Dustin Johnson was reportedly offered $150 million to play. Those amounts would be simply for participation, and further tournament winnings for LIV golf events could make payments to those golfers even bigger.
According to the U.S. Department of State, Saudia Arabia has been accused in recent years of multiple human rights violations, including: unlawful killings; executions for nonviolent offenses; forced disappearances; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners and detainees by government agents; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; and taking political prisoners or detainees, among other offenses.