'Please Don't Do It' - Saudi Activist Urges LPGA Not To Align With LIV Golf

A democracy activist has urged the LPGA Tour to publicly distance itself from the Saudi regime

LIV Golf 18th hole pictured
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A Saudi activist has penned an open letter to the LPGA Tour urging them not to align with LIV Golf. The letter comes after Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan hinted that she would engage with the controversial circuit if it could help promote the women’s game.

Lina al-Hathloul, a Saudi democracy activist, described the circumstances in which her sister was tortured and imprisoned as she campaigned for women's rights in the Kingdom - under the reign of Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). MBS is the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth that has bankrolled LIV Golf. 

"The general situation for women in Saudi Arabia has not improved, as the Saudi narrative suggests,“ she wrote. "In reality, the male guardianship system is far from dismantled.

"'Disobedience' by a woman towards her male guardian (father, husband, brother, or even son) also remains a crime, effectively rendering her new freedoms null and void if her male guardian objects.

"I understand that you might believe that your involvement with such a country could positively impact their fate but, given the present context, your participation in events hosted by the Crown Prince will only help rehabilitate him and cover up all the violations. 

"I urge you to consider the human rights aspect of your potential involvement with LIV Golf and use your influence to positively raise the situation of women in the country and to publicly distance yourself from the Saudi regime."

- Amazon Prime Day Early Access Sale Golf Deals

See more

Whilst the letter is written with future collaborations in mind, many of the LPGA Tour's stars are set to compete at Trump Golf Links in New York with Saudi state-run oil giant Aramco as the headline sponsor. Earlier this year, MBS transferred an $80bn stake in Aramco to the Public Investment Fund as part of its "long-term strategy to support the restructuring of the national economy." 

Much of the controversy surrounding LIV Golf has stemmed from the origin of its finances, with this the latest example of an advocacy group urging the sport to distance itself from human rights atrocities within the Kingdom. 

Greg Norman sparked outrage when he claimed that "we've all made mistakes" as he attempted to rebuff questions over Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses and the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The former World No.1 has persistently stated he "does not answer to Saudi Arabia" and hit out at the PGA Tour following criticism of the breakaway circuit's arrangement with the Kingdom. The Australian, who won 20 PGA Tour titles in an illustrious playing career, accused the Tour of "deafening hypocrisy" over their sponsors that "have a great working relationship with the Saudi Government." 

Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund has invested in excess of $2bn in the new circuit, which recently unveiled plans to scale up to a 14-tournament schedule in 2023. It also holds stakes in Twitter, Boeing, Uber, Meta (Facebook) and Citi - the first-ever Global Partner of The Presidents Cup.

James Hibbitt

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.