Photograph: Seth Wenig/AP
As attention turns to next week’s LIV Series event at Donald Trump’s Bedminster golf course in New Jersey, the former US president has urged players to join the Saudi-backed tour Saudi despite criticism from families of 9/11 victims.
On Sunday 9/11 Justice, a group that advocates for victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, sent a letter to Trump urging him to reconsider his support for the LIV tour. 9/11 survivor groups have long claimed that the Saudi government was complicit in the attacks, though no definitive link has ever been proven.
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“The Saudi nation is largely responsible for the deaths of our loved ones and the horrific attack on America. And you know it,” the 9/11 judge said in the letter.
Brett Eagleson, whose father was killed in the attacks, told CNN that the FBI recently investigated reports that Saudi officials provided logistical support to the 9/11 hijackers.
“The former president correctly speculated in 2016 that Saudi Arabia brought down the towers and now the FBI has released the documents to prove he was right.” Eagleson told CNN, “However, he is choosing money over the United States. So much for America First. A sad day.”
However, on Monday Trump urged golfers to join the LIV Series.
“All those golfers who remain ‘loyal’ to the very disloyal PGA, in all its different guises, will pay a heavy price when the inevitable MERGER with LIV comes around, and will get nothing but a big ‘thank you’ from PGA officials. who make millions of dollars a year,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “If you don’t take the money now, you won’t get anything after the merger goes through, and you’re just going to say how smart the original signatories were.”
A civil war has broken out in golf among loyal players on the PGA Tour and the LIV Series, offering huge cash incentives and cash prizes to those who wish to join. The breakaway league has been called a sports laundering exercise for a Saudi regime accused of a series of human rights violations. While high-profile golfers like Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods have criticized the LIV Series, great champions like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia have signed on to the league.
Trump has his own problems with the traditional powers of golf. Last year, following the storming of the US Capitol by Trump supporters, the PGA Tour reversed its decision to play the 2022 PGA Championship in Bedminster. Trump’s turnberry course is Scotland is no longer in the rotation to host the Open.
Eagleson noted that Bedminster is located “in the backyard of where 750 New Jerseyans were murdered. [in the 9/11 attacks].”
In response to the judge’s 9/11 letter, LIV said in a statement that “these families have our deepest condolences. While some may disagree, we believe that golf is a force for good around the world.”