Tuesday’s surprise agreement to end professional golf’s civil war benefits former President Donald J. Trump’s family business by boosting prospects for major tournaments to continue to be played at Trump-owned courses in the United States It will be. foreign country.
The results show how close ties between Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, and Saudi Arabia, where the Sovereign Wealth Fund is the driving force behind golf’s upheaval, are benefiting golf. This is the latest example of what has brought about. Both despite it provoking intense ethical scrutiny and political criticism.
Despite injecting new money and competition into professional golf, Saudi Arabia has been accused of using its wealth to boost its global reputation and obfuscating its human rights history through the sport. For Trump, who is seeking re-election in the White House, the campaign appears to have provided a business opportunity and increased profile in the golf world.
Since the establishment of LIV Golf, an independent professional golf circuit funded by Saudi Arabia, Trump and his family have teamed up with LIV Golf against the PGA Tour at a time when US golf prestige was in decline. . and England had Moved to keep the Trump course out It’s a trophy the Trump family has long sought after winning major professional competitions.
The departure from Trump and his line accelerated further after the January 6, 2021 pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol. Days after the assault, the PGA of America announced it was canceling its long-planned 2022 tournament at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
LIV quickly became the Trump family’s ticket to a rare world tournament once again, with last year’s event taking place at the family’s golf resort, Trump National Doral, near Bedminster and Miami. This year, LIV is hosting tournaments at three of his Trump courses, adding Northern Virginia’s Trump National Golf Club to its schedule.
The U.S. professional golfer’s decision to oust Trump has infuriated the Trump family. Trump’s business, which has spent more than a decade buying or developing golf courses around the world with the aim of hosting major tournaments, has brought attention to the courses, which has led to increased membership, and Trump’s It could give him some legitimacy in the sports world. Trump, an avid golfer.
Since Trump’s time in the White House, he and his family have developed unusually close ties to Saudi Arabia and its royal family. His first foreign trip as president was in Riyadh, where he received a great reception.
Trump has since downplayed the Saudi government’s role in the 2018 murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi and defended Saudi Arabia’s long-running military campaign in neighboring Yemen during his tenure.
Even after Trump leaves office, the relationship will continue, with the Public Investment Fund, led by Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, contributing $2 billion to an investment fund set up by Jared Kushner. followed. Son-in-law of President Trump. The Saudi fund also invested $1 billion in a company run by former Trump Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
LIV Golf is supported by the same Saudi fund. The fund’s director, Yasir Al Rumayyan, is an avid golfer and former manager of LIV Golf, with top pros like Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka as well as Phil Mickelson. He spent the extravagant $25 million in cash and guaranteed contracts to get such a big player. At times, it reached over $100 million.
But the new partnership between the PGA Tour and the LIV will only further raise questions about conflicts of interest that could make Trump run for re-election to the White House while dealing with foreign government agencies.
The Justice Department has already subpoenaed the Trump Organization for records on Trump’s dealings with LIV Golf as part of an investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents.
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund head Al Rumayyan will join the board of the PGA Tour under the agreement announced on Tuesday. Al-Rumayyan also said on Tuesday that the Saudi Investment Fund was ready to invest billions of dollars in integrated golf tournament efforts.
Speaking of Truth Social, Trump’s social media platform and personal megaphone, he wrote: A big, beautiful, glamorous deal for the great world of golf. ”
Trump’s son Eric Trump also welcomed the deal in an interview on Tuesday, calling it “great for golf” and hoping tournaments will continue at Trump-owned courses once the merger is complete. I added that there is.
Eric Trump declined to comment when asked if the Trump family played a role in encouraging the PGA Tour and wealth fund to cooperate. But he said his family has made close friends over the years in golf, including PGA Tour and LIV people.
The Trump family is working to bring LIV tournaments to more golf courses, including clubs in Dubai and Trump Turnberry Golf Resort in Scotland, adding more venues to the reconsolidated golf industry in the future. I hope it will.
It reflects the Trump family’s keen effort to host events on courses in their home countries, including Scotland, which has repeatedly turned down one of professional golf’s major tournaments, the Open. During his presidency, Mr. Trump tried unsuccessfully to enlist the U.S. ambassador to Britain to pressure the British government to hold a tournament at Turnberry.
Payments from the LIV tournament were not listed in Trump’s financial disclosure report filed in May, noting that the fees were paid directly to each golf club and counted as part of the overall revenue. suggesting. The Trump family has not disclosed how much they are making from LIV.
“Look, it’s peanuts to me. This is peanuts,” Trump said in an interview with reporters at a golf club in Virginia last month during an LIV event, adding, “They pay the rentals. They want to use my property because it’s the best property.”
In July, just before the inaugural LIV Tournament was held at Trump National Bedminster, Trump predicted that rival Golf Tours would eventually merge, leaving players who remained loyal to the PGA Tour. suggested he was making an economic mistake.
“Golfers who, in one form or another, remain ‘loyal’ to the highly dishonest PGA will pay a heavy price when the inevitable merger with LIV comes to pass. All I get is a big ‘thank you’.” They make millions of dollars a year. ” Trump wrote to Truth Social in July 2022:. “If we don’t get the money now, we won’t get anything after the merger, and it will just show how smart the original signatories were.”
In an interview last year at the Trump National Doral, where the LIV tournament was being held there, Trump added that he was confident the Saudis would win the dispute.
“I’m not going to beat these guys,” Trump said in October. “These people have great minds, amazing people, and endless amounts of money.”
With the PGA Tour and LIV Tour continuing independently, at least for now, this year’s LIV season going ahead as planned, and the PGA sticking to its already identified venues, there won’t be any immediate impact on Trump. A PGA Tour spokesperson said Tuesday.
But for Trump, who wants to return to the White House, an alliance with Saudi Arabia carries political risks.
The announcement of the LIV-PGA deal immediately sparked outcry from a group called 9/11 Families United, which is calling for an ongoing investigation into the causes of the 2001 terrorist attacks. The group called Saudi Arabia’s efforts to enter professional golf a “sport wash” as part of a plan to boost the country’s reputation related to human rights and allegations of links between the hijackers and the Saudi government. .
A spokesperson for PGA Tour leaders 9/11 Families United said: in the statement“Looks like it cost billions to clean up Saudi Arabia’s reputation, and just increased Saudi salaries,” Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster said last year when the LIV tournament was on. Allegedly, he took demonstrators to
Connecticut Democratic Senator Christopher S. Murphy pointed out on Tuesday that the PGA had long resisted talk of a merger with LIV.
“Just a few months ago, PGA officials came to my office telling me that the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia should disqualify the United States from major sports.” he wrote on twitter. “Maybe their concerns weren’t really about human rights?”
Alan Blinder Contributed to the report.