Trump slams PGA Tour, says Saudis did improbable job with LIV

Former US President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Robstown, Texas, on October 22, 2022.

Go Nakamura | Reuters

Donald Trump on Thursday again praised Saudi Arabia-backed golf company LIV, which is in the middle of a political and legal battle with the PGA Tour and other American golf interests.

Former President’s Doral Club in South Florida is hosting LIV events this week.

“It’s big time and it’s big money. It’s unlimited money. They love golf and the Saudis have done a fantastic job,” Trump said after a round of Pro-Am, according to the Golf Channel. “It’s different, the enthusiasm.” He also criticized the PGA Tour.

The former president has hosted PGA Tour tournaments in the past, but the Tour pulled their 2017 event from his Trump National Doral Miami course and the 2022 PGA Championship from Trump Bedminster in New Jersey after the Jan. 6, 2021 riot withdrawn in the Capitol.

Now LIV Golf, backed by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, has taken over Trump real estate. The deep-pocketed league held a tournament at Trump Bedminster in July, despite condemnation from the families of 9/11 victims, and will host its championship at Trump National Doral Miami beginning Friday.

Trump’s connection to Saudi Arabia goes beyond his admiration and business relationship with LIV Golf. As president, he said the US stands behind the kingdom despite the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was a critic of the Saudi royal family.

Meanwhile, Golfweek reported that LIV Golf relied on Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, whose investment firm landed hundreds of millions of dollars in Saudi money to discuss Kushner’s friend Lachlan Murdoch, the Fox Corp. directs him to agree a media deal with Fox Sports…along with his father, Rupert. LIV has said reports of its search for media rights deals were “incomplete and inaccurate”.

LIV Golf has struggled to keep up with the PGA Tour, even without a media deal. Huge deals have attracted star players like Phil Mickelson, while the Tour has tried to respond with its own increased bonuses. The former president said more players will defect to LIV.

“Lots of other people come over. Big names, they come around. The star system is very important in sport. If you don’t have the Star System, you won’t be successful,” said Trump, who is considering another presidential bid while facing a Justice Department criminal investigation into top-secret documents he found in his home in Mar-a-Lago brought to South Florida.

The two leagues have waged lawsuits and launched lobbying efforts against each other. Most recently, a Department of Justice antitrust investigation expanded its scope from the PGA Tour to Augusta National and the USGA, which oversee the major tournaments Masters and US Open, respectively.

But the Trump said he thinks the PGA Tour and LIV could work something out but blamed the tour for not working towards a solution.

“Something could have been worked out so easily,” Trump said, “but the tour decided to brick it, as Richard Nixon said.”

The PGA Tour declined to comment. LIV Golf did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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