Trump criticizes PGA tour and praises Saudis for supporting LIV Golf

BEDMINSTER, NJ — Donald Trump praised the Saudi sponsors of Thursday’s controversial new golf tournament as his friends while criticizing the traditional PGA Tour.

The former president, dressed in a white golf shirt and his signature red baseball cap emblazoned with the familiar slogan of his campaign, gave a brief speech before starting play in the professional segment of the LIV Golf tournament at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. he owns.

“I’ve known these people in Saudi Arabia for a long time and they’ve been my friends for a long time,” Trump said after training on the training ground. “They have invested in many American companies. They own large percentages of many, many American companies, and frankly, what they do for golf is so great, what they do for players is so great. Wages will skyrocket.”

The LIV Golf series is funded by the sovereign wealth fundled by Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman. In 2018, during the Trump presidency, US intelligence officials concluded that Prince Mohammed authorized the assassination. Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi dissident and Washington Post journalist. Trump, who has been critical of the Saudis on the campaign trail leading up to his election in 2016, has resisted their conclusions.

The Bedminster Club was previously scheduled to host the PGA Championship in 2022, but the PGA of America moved him to Oklahoma after Jan. Capitol attack on September 6, 2021, saying that holding it in Bedminster would “harm the PGA of America brand”. (PGA of America, which is separate from the PGA Tour, later reached an agreement with the Trump Organization.) Trump has since sided with the upstart on the golf tour.

It is not known how much the organizers of LIV Golf paid Trump to use his club for the 54-hole tournament, the tour’s third event. But players who opted out of the lucrative tour were guaranteed large sums and were fired or suspended from the PGA Tour for participating in it. For now, LIV golfers can still play in the four majors that are not hosted by the PGA Tour, although this may change in the future.

“As you know, a lot of players didn’t like PGA for a long time,” Trump said. “Now they have an alternative, and no one would have known that it would be a gold rush, like that. I don’t think anyone ever knew they would be paying signing bonuses. The prize fund should have been much higher, you know, four, five, six times higher. So, instead of a million dollars, you win five, seven or eight. A lot of money, and they are even growing. But the PGA Tour failed.”

During a brief interview with several reporters before he went to practice on the putting green, Trump was asked about the protests involving the families of victims of the 9/11 attacks. The protesters who plan a meeting on Friday, at the same time the main tournament starts, it is believed, along with others, that the government of Saudi Arabia supported the organizers of the attacks.

“Well, unfortunately, no one got to the bottom of the events of 9/11,” Trump said. “They must have. As for the maniacs who did this terrible thing to our city, our country, the world, no one was there.”

Trump was scheduled to play Thursday’s event in a band that included his son Eric Trump; professional golfers Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson; and Yasser al-Rumayan, head of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.

“I will never feel long-term with this band,” he said.