This week at Donald Trump’s New Jersey golf club, the former President has inserted himself into the center of a storm that has rocked the sporting world and international relations.
Starting this Friday, Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster will host the third tournament for LIV Golf, the new Saudi-backed professional circuit that has shaken the sport’s primary professional organization, the PGA Tour, by luring away top players with greater, more secure paychecks.
Trump has been actively promoting this weekend’s tournament in interviews and public statements leading up to it, in which he has praised LIV Golf and criticized the PGA Tour.
On Wednesday, he announced his arrival in Bedminster for the huge LIV Tour Golf Tournament on Truth Social, his own social media platform. “Huge jackpots, the most action ever. If you want to see the finest players in action, you should come out on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.”
After the incident on January 6, 2021, at the United States Capitol, officials from the PGA of America decided to move the 2022 PGA Championship from Bedminster, New Jersey, to another city. This is when Trump’s professional relationship with LIV Golf comes in handy. Trump National Doral in South Florida will host the season-ending LIV Golf tournament in October.
Activists, media outlets, and others have voiced worry that Trump’s LIV Golf event legitimizes the Saudi Arabian government, which has been accused of human rights crimes for years.
Earlier this week, he spoke favorably of the golf tour, which is funded by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
According to quotes attributed to Trump in the Journal, the president thinks LIV has been good for Saudi Arabia and the country’s reputation.
A spokeswoman for Trump did not react to questions from CNN.
Organizers and players on the LIV Golf Tour have been questioned by human rights and media organizations for their ties to the Saudi Arabian government. Several of those issues have concentrated around the 2018 death of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.
According to a study published by the US intelligence community last year, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the effort to kidnap or kill the Saudi journalist, corroborating initial CIA assessments made shortly after the murder. However, Trump has publicly rejected suspicions that bin Salman was involved during his presidency, and his government has improved US connections with the Saudis.
Some of the victims and their relatives have spoken out against the LIV Golf tournament in Bedminster. Terry Strada, chair of 9/11 Families United, spoke at a press conference on Tuesday at Bedminster, stating that the organization was “appalled” by the “offensive, disrespectful, and hurtful” tournament at Trump’s club, which is located only 50 miles from the site of the 2001 New York attack. Despite her “very disappointment” in Trump, Strada emphasized that he was not the primary focus of the group’s criticism.
Trump told ESPN at his club on Thursday that he and Saudi Arabians have been “friends” for a “long time.”
“What they’re doing for golf is fantastic. They’re doing such an amazing thing for the players “the former head of state declared.
Trump seems to query whether there was knowledge of the Saudi complicity in the terrorist attacks when asked what he would say to the families of 9/11 victims who are opposing the LIV Golf tournament.
He stated, “Unfortunately, and they should have, nobody has gotten to the bottom of 9/11 as to the maniacs that did that horrific atrocity to our city, our country, and the globe.” “So it seems that no one has ever actually been there. But I can assure you that among those present tonight are many fine human beings.”
Immediately after Trump’s comments, Strada told CNN that the former president “knows for a fact that the Kingdom was responsible. While in office, he did everything he could to shield the Saudi government from criticism, including breaking his vow to declassify FBI reports on Saudi complicity in the 9/11 attacks.”
Prominent golfers like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have spoken out against the new LIV Golf circuit. The PGA Tour has also taken action against players who have registered with the new organization. The traditional organization, the PGA Tour, may have been taken by surprise by the draw of LIV Golf, which offers greater rewards and guaranteed payouts for the sport’s elite athletes.
Trump appears to take pleasure in seeing the PGA Tour, with whom he has a tense history, suffer. Although his clubs have in the past hosted PGA and other professional golf competitions, the last time the PGA Tour stopped by was for a tournament in March of 2016 at Doral. After Trump decided to revoke the 2022 PGA Championship from Bedminster, the target was clear.
Golfers who “remain loyal” to the “very disloyal PGA, in all of its different forms,” as Trump put it in a post on Truth Social last week, “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,” he added. To paraphrase, “If you don’t take the money now, you’ll get nothing after the merger, and all you’ll be able to do is brag about how brilliant the original signees were.”
Trump has made similar comments about professional sports before. Many times throughout his presidency, Obama voiced disapproval of the NFL’s stance on allowing players to kneel during the playing of the national anthem. Moreover, Trump joined other Republicans in calling for a boycott of Major Organization Baseball last year when the league relocated the All-Star Game from Atlanta due to new election law in the Peach State.