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The former US Open champion is at Adare Manor and competing in the JP McManus Pro-Am where he told BBC NI: "I’m having my moral integrity attacked all the time when, at the end of the day, all I’m trying to do is play golf. I’m trying to make a business decision for me and my family. And, you know, I’ve paid my dues in this game over the last 20 years, I’ve tried to carry myself the right way.
“The tenuous links to what the Saudi regime have done, the horrible things they have done, they’re trying to link this to golf and playing professional golf. It’s very difficult when you’re in a situation where you’re literally being asked questions that there are no right answers to and you’re just being torn apart for it.”
The Northern Irishman was one of the most vocal players ahead of his LIV Golf Series debut at Centurion Club, where he described the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as "reprehensible" and insisted that players were "not politicians" and said he was "proud" to help Saudi Arabia "on the journey" to "get where they want to be." He later described the criticism of the Series as a "smear campaign."
“I don’t wake up and feel proud of myself every day," ha said. "You know, I can’t turn on my Instagram or Twitter account without someone telling me to go die. It’s been a really tough couple of months. But again, I expected it, I knew what the consequences are going to be, I just didn’t realise kind of just how heavily this was going to be hammered, trying to answer questions which are unanswerable.
“That’s probably the only mistake I made in London at the first event when I was in my press conference – I just wish I’d said nothing. I just wish I just sat there and just kind of shook my head and said no comment. But it’s not who I am. I always try and be truthful and try to answer questions. I shouldn’t have bothered.
“I’ve played golf all over the world and countries whose human rights records could probably be torn apart as well. I’ve never questioned being in China or being in the Middle East or being all over the world.
He added: “What I do is I play professional golf, I play golf for money. I’ve chased that money all over the world all my career. I’m 43 next month and, you know, the LIV Golf opportunity was incredibly lucrative. Do I research into the morals of every dollar I’ve ever made? No, I don’t.
“And, unfortunately, because of the competitive threat that this tour is compared to the other tours in the world the negativity has been focused heavily on here and it really hurts to kind of see my name attacked the way it has.”
James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.
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