LIV Golf Wants to Talk About Sports. Donald Trump Still Looms.-News

It was Sunday evening when LIV Golf, the men’s league that received billions of dollars from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, experienced its biggest victory in the game to date when one of its directors, Brooks Koepka, He won the PGA Championship.

By Thursday morning, the LIV road show had settled down again with the politics that have dogged the area for the second year as it baffled golfers: the visible and visible presence of former President Donald J. Trump, who is hosting the event. about this week’s league competition at courses in northwest Washington.

Whether LIV can move beyond Trump’s shadow, even if it wants to, will do a lot to shape the way the league looks in the coming years, especially in the United States, where it has struggled to compete with the PGA Tour.

But for now, with major tournament winners like Koepka and Phil Mickelson joining the ranks, perhaps no golfer is more connected to LIV than Trump, who has taken the plunge. repeatedly and enthusiastically Saudi Arabia’s thunderous, spectacular entry into the game. At his events, he is often seen as an aspiring MC whose position is at the same time well-known and mysterious – although neither the Trump Organization nor LIV has revealed the amount of money the former president’s company makes for the event – while the league seems to be taking action. in the hidden game.

“They want to use my stuff because it’s the best stuff,” Trump said on Thursday, as he spent five hours appearing at an official event with LIV players Graeme McDowell and Patrick Reed (holding what was there. a press conference about politics and information about his property on 18 holes on the Potomac River).

Mr. Trump’s history includes special courses, including the Washington site, which has previously hosted the Senior PGA Championship, and LIV managers have said in the past that they were attracted to it because many of the top sites in the United States were. not wanting to host a region that wants to compete with the PGA Tour. But Trump is getting stronger and stronger The LIV method it also calls into question the motives and intentions of the league, which some critics see as a glitzy way for Saudi Arabia to rebuild its image.

The former president is unfazed by the league’s manager, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, and the kingdom’s first golf resort, despite human rights abuses. He is still pushing aside the objections of the relatives of the victims on Sept. 11, which some believe that Saudi Arabia participated in the 2001 protests, because, as he said on Thursday, the LIV games are “great economic development.” He openly admires the millions and millions of dollars the Saudis are throwing at players and, of course, properties like his, even though he said Thursday that playing sports is “nuts to me.” This year, LIV will attend three of his propertyfrom two in his inaugural season.

He remained loyal even when the special counsel from the Department of Justice, Mr. Jack Smith, asked the Trump Organization to have documents related to LIV.

In an interview while walking between pits on Thursday, Trump described Smith’s outburst as “retaliation” because Biden’s administration wanted “to do something to show what happened.” He said he did not know why his relationship with LIV attracted the special counsel’s review.

Trump’s love of LIV can be traced, at least in part, to years of controversy with the golf establishment.

In 2016, the PGA Tour ended a long-standing relationship with Trump’s golf course in Doral, Fla., near Miami, for what its commissioner at the time described as “very helpful.” And in 2021, after Trump’s supporters attacked the CapitolThe PGA of America – which is separate from the PGA Tour – he abandoned his plan to hold its own men’s race at Trump’s New Jersey base in 2022.

Trump is not doing well abroad. The R&A, which organizes the British Open, has signaled that it does not want to bring the tournament back to Trump-controlled Turnberry, where LIV Commissioner Greg Norman won one of his two Opens.

LIV has embraced Trump, however, and found the former president, as well as many media stories that might otherwise go unnoticed. They bring fame and power, tempered as they may be by the divisions they enjoy.

“They have unlimited money and they love it,” he said on Thursday, “and it has become very popular in Saudi Arabia.”

But every day Trump shows up at a LIV event, is a day LIV can rewrite as a day it can’t escape the questions it spent a year trying to move past, or say it wants to. to move forward.

It has been difficult enough in the league, even on a day when Trump isn’t playing around, that his players don’t face ethical questions about receiving millions in Saudi money.

“We have an agreement to play golf,” Bryson DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open champion who finished tied for fourth at the PGA Championship last week, said Wednesday. “I think the most important thing is to provide good entertainment wherever possible on any platform that it is, any platform that offers it. If you can talk about ethics, that’s the opinion of the people. I don’t agree with it, but everyone has the right to their opinion, and I would say, was it appropriate ? Of course.”

But DeChambeau doesn’t have the same megaphone or presence as the former Oval Office man. When Trump appears at the LIV event, even the winners of the Masters Tournament or the US Open are turned into supporters.

LIV executives often sidestep questions about whether the former president is good for business, or even just needed, because of the difficulties they face. He seems confident that, at some point, sports will win out over politics, which may be wishful thinking since Trump said Thursday that nothing — not even a return to the White House — would stop him from doing business with the league.

But LIV’s strategy also includes gambling that the presence of one of the country’s most famous people won’t threaten sponsorship deals and television rights that are already struggling to make ends meet. And Trump can alienate potential fans as easily as he can attract them.

Trump himself insists that LIV wants him in his affairs and that he is not interfering with the league’s declared goal of expanding the sport and giving it the necessary powers.

“They wanted me to be here, and I said sure,” said Trump, who said that LIV’s contracts and properties do not require him to appear at events like the pro-am.

Perhaps all of this is true. But as long as that happens, LIV will remain in politics, no matter how well Koepka plays on the sport’s biggest stages.

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