Former US President Donald Trump on Monday urged golfers to “take the money” and sign with the Saudi-backed LIV series amid reports that more players are willing to join the scandalous scheme.
Trump, who is hosting LIV events at two of his golf courses this year, said in a post on his social media platform Truth that players should not hesitate to opt out of the PGA Tour, which he called “disloyal.”
“All those golfers who remain ‘loyal’ to the very disloyal PGA in all its various forms will pay a heavy price when the inevitable MERGER to the LIV happens and you get nothing but a big ‘thank you’ from PGA officials. who make millions of dollars a year,” Trump wrote.
“If you don’t take the money now, you get nothing after the merger happens and only say how smart the original signers were,” he added.
Trump ended the post with congratulations to the newly minted British Open Champion Cam Smith, the Australian who stormed to victory at St Andrews on Sunday with a superb final round.
Smith is on the latest list of names reportedly poised to sign with LIV Golf, which has already hired a slew of well-known names with terrific contracts that are reported to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars in some cases.
LIV Golf, led by the great Australian Greg Norman, is funded by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund.
Human rights groups have criticized the venture, saying it exists solely to enhance Saudi Arabia’s international reputation, a phenomenon dubbed “sports laundering”.
Smith bristled but didn’t outright deny when asked about reports linking him to the LIV following his Open win on Sunday.
“I just won the UK Open and you are asking about it. I don’t think it’s that good,” Smith said.
“I don’t know, mate. My team around me is worried about all of this. I’m here to win golf tournaments.”
In addition to Smith, LIV is reportedly on the verge of signing Swedish star Henrik Stenson. Stenson is expected to be stripped of the Ryder Cup captaincy in Europe if he signs with LIV.
As the New York Post reported on Monday, golf analyst David Feherty has parted ways with NBC and is expected to join LIV broadcasts. The 63-year-old Northern Irish native has toured the US and Europe in the past.
“Disappointment and Anger”
Meanwhile, Trump has not responded to criticism from relatives of those killed and injured in the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington over his golf clubs’ participation in LIV events. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers involved in the atrocity were Saudi nationals.
In an open letter to Trump released Sunday, the 9/11 Justice group urged Trump to cut ties with LIV Golf. Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ, is scheduled to host an LIV event July 29-31, while its Trump National Course at Doral, Florida will host the tournament October 27-30.
“We just can’t understand how you could agree to accept money from the Saudi Arabian Golf League to run their tournament on your golf course, and do it in the shadow of Ground Zero in New Jersey, which lost over 700 residents in the attack.” , the group wrote in their letter.
“It is difficult for us to fully express the extreme pain, frustration and anger that this upcoming tournament at Bedminster is causing in our community…it is incomprehensible to us that a former President of the United States would abandon our loved ones for personal financial gain.”