Trump Criticizes PGA Tour and Praises Saudis for Backing LIV Golf

BEDMINSTER, NJ — Donald J. Trump praised the Saudi Arabian backers of a controversial new golf match Thursday, calling them his pals, whereas criticizing the standard PGA Tour.

The former president, sporting a white golf shirt and his signature purple baseball cap emblazoned together with his acquainted marketing campaign slogan, spoke briefly earlier than teeing off within the pro-am section of the LIV Golf occasion on the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ, which he owns.

“I’ve identified these individuals for a very long time in Saudi Arabia and they’ve been pals of mine for a very long time,” Trump mentioned after taking follow swings on the driving vary. “They’ve invested in lots of American corporations. They personal massive percentages of many, many American corporations and frankly, what they’re doing for golf is so nice, what they’re doing for the gamers is so nice. The salaries are going to go manner up.”

The LIV Golf collection is bankrolled by the sovereign wealth fund, which is overseen by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In 2018, throughout Trump’s presidency, American intelligence officers concluded that Prince Mohammed had approved the homicide of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and journalist with the Washington Post. Trump, who criticized the Saudis on the marketing campaign path earlier than his election in 2016, resisted their conclusions.

The Bedminster membership had beforehand been scheduled to host the PGA Championship in 2022, however the PGA of America moved it to Oklahoma after the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol, saying that holding it at Bedminster can be “detrimental to the PGA of America model.” (The PGA of America, which is separate from the PGA Tour, later reached a settlement with the Trump Organization.) Since then, Trump has sided with the upstart golf tour.

It will not be identified how a lot LIV Golf organizers paid Trump for the usage of his membership for the 54-hole match, the tour’s third occasion. But gamers who’ve defected to the profitable tour have been assured massive sums and have resigned or been suspended from the PGA Tour for taking part in in it. As of now, LIV golfers can nonetheless play within the 4 main tournaments, which aren’t run by the PGA Tour, though that would change sooner or later.

“The PGA was not beloved by lots of the gamers, as , for a very long time,” Trump mentioned. “Now they’ve another and no person would have identified it was going to be a gold rush, like this. I feel no person ever knew that they had been going to be paying signing bonuses. The prize cash was going to be a lot greater, , 4, 5, six occasions greater. So, as a substitute of one million {dollars} you win 5 or seven or eight. Some huge cash and it is even going up. But the PGA Tour hasn’t acted nicely.”

During a quick interview with a handful of reporters earlier than he went to the follow placing inexperienced, Trump was requested about protests involving the households of victims of the 9/11 terrorist assaults. The protesters, who plan to stage a counter occasion on Friday on the identical time the primary match begins, imagine, together with others, that the Saudi authorities backed the organizers of the assaults.

“Well, no person’s gotten to the underside of 9/11, sadly,” Trump mentioned. “They ought to have. As to the maniacs that did that horrible factor to our metropolis, to our nation, to the world, so no person’s actually been there.”

Trump was scheduled to play in Thursday’s occasion in a bunch that included skilled golfers Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, and his son Eric Trump.

“I’ll by no means really feel like a protracted hitter with that group,” he mentioned.

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