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Donald Trump has thinks the LIV Golf Invitational Series has already been worth the equivalent of billions of dollars in publicity for Saudi Arabia, the country funding the venture.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Trump said: “I think LIV has been a great thing for Saudi Arabia, for the image of Saudi Arabia. I think it’s going to be an incredible investment from that standpoint, and that’s more valuable than lots of other things because you can’t buy that - even with billions of dollars.”
Video: What Is LIV Golf?
There have long been allegations that the country is using the Series to sportswash both its human rights record and the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman refutes that claim, insisting that the Series exists to grow the game. However, he courted controversy in May when, on the subject of the Khashoggi incident, he appeared to downplay it, saying: “We all make mistakes.”
One of Trump’s courses, in Bedminster, New Jersey, hosts the third tournament in the Series this week, while another, Florida’s Trump National Doral hosts the Team Championship finale in late October. His association with the Series has drawn controversy from the advocacy group 9/11 Justice, which stated it felt "deep pain and anger" at his decision to host the events considering the Saudi links with the September 11 attacks, which involved 15 Saudi hijackers.
Trump told the Wall Street Journal that while he understands the 9/11 families’ feelings he doesn’t know much about their cause. Meanwhile, on the subject of Khashoggi’s death, he said the controversy surrounding it has “totally died down.”
It’s far from the first time Trump has sought to defend the Series. After the 150th Open Championship, he urged players to 'take the money' and join LIV Golf via his Truth Social network. He said: "All of those golfers that remain 'loyal' to the very disloyal PGA [Tour], 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. If you don't take the money now, you will get nothing after the merger takes place, and only say how smart the original signees were”
The third event in the Series at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster is expected to draw similar protests to those seen at Pumpkin Ridge before the second tournament. The tournament gets under way on Thursday 28 July.
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Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories.
He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game.
Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course.
Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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