Trump Criticizes PGA Tour and Praises Saudis for Backing LIV Golf

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

The former president, sporting a white golf shirt and his signature crimson 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, N.J., which he owns.

“I’ve known these people for a long time in Saudi Arabia and they have been friends of mine for a long time,” Trump stated after taking apply swings on the driving vary. “They’ve invested in many American companies. They own big percentages of many, many American companies and frankly, what they are doing for golf is so great, what they are doing for the players is so great. The salaries are going to go way up.”

The LIV Golf sequence 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 officials concluded that Prince Mohammed had authorized the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and journalist with the Washington Post. Trump, who criticized the Saudis on the campaign trail before his election in 2016, resisted their conclusions.

The Bedminster club had previously been scheduled to host the P.G.A. Championship in 2022, but the P.G.A. of America moved it to Oklahoma after the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, saying that holding it at Bedminster would be “detrimental to the P.G.A. of America brand.” (The P.G.A. 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 shouldn’t be recognized how a lot LIV Golf organizers paid Trump for using 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 loved by a lot of the players, as you know, for a long time,” Trump stated. “Now they have an alternative and nobody ever would have known it was going to be a gold rush, like this. I think nobody ever knew that they were going to be paying signing bonuses. The prize money was going to be much higher, you know, four, five, six times higher. So, instead of a million dollars you win five or seven or eight. A lot of money and it’s even going up. But the PGA Tour hasn’t acted well.”

During a quick interview with a handful of reporters earlier than he went to the apply 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 similar time the principle match begins, imagine, together with others, that the Saudi authorities backed the organizers of the assaults.

“Well, nobody’s gotten to the bottom of 9/11, unfortunately,” Trump stated. “They should have. As to the maniacs that did that horrible thing to our city, to our country, to the world, so nobody’s really been there.”

Trump was scheduled to play in Thursday’s occasion in a gaggle 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 never feel like a long hitter with that group,” he stated.

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