The controversial new Saudi-funded golf league will hold one of its tournaments at Donald Trump’s course in Bedminster, New Jersey, Mother Jones magazine reported.
Last week, the LIV Golf Invitational Series, as the Saudi-funded league is called, announced eight golf courses, including Trump’s course, that were ready to host its tournaments.
After last year’s Capitol Riot, the PGA announced it was retiring its 2022 PGA Championship outside of the same Trump course.
The lucrative new tournament follows Trump’s romance with the Saudis when he was in the White House. At a campaign rally in 2015, he said he liked the Saudis “a lot” because they do business with him and spend millions to buy him apartments.
Trump refused to criticize Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman even after US intelligence determined the prince ordered the 2018 murder and brutal dismemberment of Saudi dissident and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“I saved his life,” Trump said of the crown prince last year in an interview with Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, quoted in his book “Rage.” “I managed to convince Congress to leave him alone.”
Bin Salman “will always say he didn’t,” Trump told Woodward. “He says that to everyone. Frankly, I’m glad he said that.
Trump also agreed to a controversial and massive deal to sell $8 million worth of weapons to the Saudis.
The Saudi-backed golf league has been criticized as a strategy to clean up the image of the nation’s autocratic royal rulers where an astonishing 81 prisoners were executed in a single day earlier this month.
US Hall of Fame golfer Phil Mickelson said last month he planned to play in the Saudi-funded tournaments, telling author Alan Shipnuck it was “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour works.”
Mickelson said he would work with the Saudis, even if the government officials were “scary motherfuckers.”
“We know they killed [Washington Post journalist and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible human rights record,” Mickelson told Shipnuck in an interview for his upcoming book “Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar.”
Mickelson added, “They’re executing people there because they’re gay.”
Mickelson later said in a statement that he deeply regretted his “reckless” remarks. “I offended people and I’m deeply sorry for my choice of words,” he said.
Organizers of the Saudi-backed league, which will be part of the Asian tour, said last month they already had commitments for 20 players to participate.
The planned new circuit would be financed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, estimated at some 500 billion dollars.