LIV Golf event at Trump National promises interest and controversy

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Suspension

Ex-President Donald Trump is collaborating this week with the sport’s biggest controversy when a New Jersey golf club hosts the latest event in the Saudi-funded LIV Golf series, cementing his relationship with Saudi Arabia and angering the families of the 9/11 victims. He denounced the start-up project as a “sports wash”.

While the Rebel golf course has organized two other events, including one in the United States, this week’s event at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ, promises to be a more visible bright spot, given its proximity to Manhattan and the former president’s involvement.

In recent days, Trump has publicly and privately dismissed human rights concerns about Saudi Arabia and criticized the professional golf establishment. He is expected to attend every day of this weekend’s event and has been in touch for months with organizers about event details, according to an adviser, who said Trump remains angry at PGA of America officials who moved the 2022 PGA Championship from his club, Bedminster. January 6 rebellion. Doral, his club out of Miami, will host another event at LIV Golf in October.

Trump and his spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

Funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, the LIV Golf project has succeeded in attracting prominent players with exorbitant guaranteed salary checks and exorbitant perks. But while the players have earned big money — some signing bonuses are said to be eight and nine figure wages — they have also faced intense questioning over allegations against their philanthropists, which include the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist. .

Golf Rituals in 2022: Watch a Pioneer, Then Wonder About a LIV

Some 9/11 families protested at this month’s LIV event at the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club outside of Portland, Oregon, and last week members of the 9/11 Justice group sent Trump a letter urging him to cancel this week’s event and requesting a meeting with him. previous president. Brett Eggelson, whose father died in the 9/11 attacks, said a Trump aide reached out to him on Saturday to discuss the letter.

“It was a frustrating, frivolous call that made me even angrier,” said Eggelson. “I wish they had never called.”

According to Eagleson, the aide said the LIV contract was binding “and there is no way out” and that Trump was “grateful and thankful for the letter” from the 9/11 families.

“My response was: You have to appreciate that what you say, the words ring hollow,” said Eagleson. “If it is so important, why is he calling me? Why doesn’t he call me himself?”

Trump has repeatedly defended Saudi Arabia while he was president. He made his first foreign trip to the country, due to the concerns of some advisers. Since leaving office, his son-in-law Jared Kushner has attracted significant investment from the country’s sovereign fund, according to multiple reports.

In an interview this week with The Wall Street Journal, Trump said, “I don’t know much about the 9/11 families. I don’t know what the connection to this is, and their feelings are so strong, I can understand their feelings. I can’t really comment on that because I don’t know exactly.” What they say, what they say who did what.”

Trump met with a group of 9/11 family members in the Oval Office in 2019, according to two attendees, and promised to declassify and release records related to the attack. They said more than a dozen family members attended the meeting, and some left in tears after years of trying to access records about the Saudi Arabian government.

“We all left overjoyed. We were crying. Families were embracing each other,” said Eggelson. He told us all, ‘We’ll help you. Don’t worry about it. It’s already done.’

But soon William B. Barr, Trump’s attorney general, classified the documents as top secret, and the White House made no effort to follow up with the families, according to two people present at the meeting.

“Trump was a disappointment as a president in office, and it’s even more disappointment now as a former president,” said Terry Strada, the national president of the 9/11 Families United, whose husband, Tom, worked in the North Tower during the attacks. He knows better than anyone the level of corruption in the kingdom, and he knows – he’s a New Yorker – how families have been affected by the attacks. Seven hundred and fifty people are missing in New Jersey. It’s right in our backyard, and what, six weeks before our anniversary? It’s just an insult.”

From June: Golf legend Greg Norman has thrown his sport into disarray. This time, he’s doing it with Saudi money.

LIV Golf has thrown unheard of sums at golfers, course operators and even broadcasters. Create a sharp gap in sports. The PGA Tour suspended dissenters, and others chose to resign their membership from Top Tour Golf.

Trump has always been passionate about the sport and has considered many of the best golfers in the world to be friends. But in recent years he has struggled to gain formal entry into the world of professional golf. Many stakeholders, especially in recent years, have moved away from his holdings and at times confronted Trump himself.

The PGA Tour has not held a tournament at Trump’s training course since 2016. Doral has hosted a PGA event for more than half a century in South Florida. After buying the resort after bankruptcy in 2012, Trump renamed it Trump National Doral. But after Cadillac lost as title sponsor, the PGA moved the event to Mexico City in 2016. In response, Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee at the time, told Fox News host Sean Hannity, “I hope they’ve hijacked the insurance.”

After the January 6 mutiny, the US PGA terminated its agreement to stage the 2022 PGA Championship at Bedminster Stadium. R&A said Trump’s Turnberry Club in Scotland would not be considered a site for the British Open for the “foreseeable future”.

This left Trump with few options to host a tournament of any level of prestige. Trump Golf 19 portfolio includes facilities around the world – but there are no major tournaments in sight. LIV was the only imminent option, creating a marriage of two controversial entities that tried to work their way toward mainstream acceptance.

Since LIV’s finances are not public, it is not known how much Trump is willing to host LIV events, but many industry experts have estimated several million.

This week’s Bidminster event is likely to see protesters – family members of 9/11 victims held a press conference on Tuesday and another is scheduled for Friday – and has been mired in controversy since day one. The sport has gone into disarray. , if not a complete crisis. The tour has lost many stars – among them Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau – and the pockets of the Saudi-backed group can’t be matched.

The winner of Bedminster Weekend will receive $4 million, the last-place golfer will receive $120,000, and no golfer will be discounted for high scores. By comparison, last weekend’s PGA Tour event winner, the 3M Open, earned $1.35 million, and only 11 golfers in the 153-man field made more than $105,000.

In a statement about LIV last week, Trump made no mention of Saudi support or the controversy surrounding the event. For him, it is a matter of money.

“All golfers who remain ‘loyal’ to the highly disloyal PGA, in all its various forms, will pay a heavy price when a MERGER comes with a LIV, and you only get a huge ‘thank you’ from PGA officials who make millions of dollars annually,” Trump wrote on Truth Social.

Several high-ranking golf executives have said that while Trump stands to make a lot of money from the event and his course will receive international experience, the former president will likely also enjoy the opportunity to adjust to the PGA Tour, which will have its own event this week in Detroit, Rocket Mortgage. Classic.

Greg Norman, LIV commissioner and Hall of Fame golfer, has been friendly with Trump for years, and the two have spoken multiple times on the startup circuit. “He loves it,” Norman said in a recent interview.

“He loves the concept, he loves all – and he thinks I’m the perfect guy for that,” Norman said. “We had many conversations.”

Bedminster has long served as a centerpiece in Trump’s world. The former president spends most of the summer months outside the New Jersey club. A Washington Post report estimated that Trump spent 106 days at the club while the president, practicing nearly thirty rounds of golf there.

One adviser said Trump has played 18 to 36 holes of golf four to five days a week since leaving office. The chancellor said he has spoken in recent months or played with a number of professional golfers, including Johnson, Norman, Jack Nicklaus and Ernie Els.

Hosting a first class golf event in Bedminster has always been Trump’s dream. He bought the property, over 500 acres of farmland that formerly served as the John DeLorean property of the automaker, in 2002. At first, Trump waved a shovel and bragged to reporters, “This is a special place. We have so much to work with, we’ll make this beyond anyone’s dreams.” and his expectations.

“We’ve known from day one that it’s set to host major businesses,” Ashley Cooper, who ran the property in the early days and later ascended to managing partner of Trump Golf, said in an email.

Kent Babb contributed to this report.

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