Skip to content
‘We are not politicians,’ says Graeme McDowell as LIV golfers question human rights in Saudi Arabia |  Golf News


Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen and Dustin Johnson asked about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record after signing up for LIV Golf Series; the big winners also asked if they played in the Saudi-funded league just for the money; the first event starts in Hertfordshire on Friday

Last update: 07/06/22 6:00 p.m.

Please use Chrome browser for more accessible video player

Dustin Johnson, Graeme McDowell and Louis Oosthuizen had to answer some tough questions at the press conference for the LIV series opening event in Hertfordshire

Dustin Johnson, Graeme McDowell and Louis Oosthuizen had to answer some tough questions at the press conference for the LIV series opening event in Hertfordshire

Big winners Dustin Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen and Graeme McDowell were asked about starring in the LIV International series given Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

All three will take part in the lucrative Saudi-funded league opener at the Centurion Club in Hertfordshire from Friday.

Here is the transcript of the main sections of Tuesday’s two LIV press conferences.

Riath Al-Samarrai, Daily Mail: How do you reconcile your decision to be here with Saudi Arabia’s human rights record?

Graeme McDowell: It’s been incredibly polarizing. The [Jamal] Khashoggi’s situation, I think we can all agree was reprehensible. No one will dispute that fact, but we are golfers. Personally, I really think golf is a force for good in the world. I try to be a role model for children. I know what the game taught me. I love using the game of golf as something to help grow in the world and be role models for kids, try to use this game as a force for good. We are not politicians, we are professional golfers. If Saudi Arabia wants to use golf to get where it wants to go, I think we’re proud to help them on that journey.

Rob Harris, Associated Press: The trip you were told to Saudi Arabia is underway – how is it helping oppressed women, migrant groups whose rights are being violated, LGBTQ people criminalized, the families of the 81 men executed in March and those bombed in Yemen?

Graeme McDowell: I would love the opportunity to have this conversation with you. As golfers, if we tried to fix the geopolitical situations in every country in the world where we play golf, we wouldn’t play much golf. This is a really difficult question to answer. We’re here to just focus on golf and what it does for the role models that we are. This is a really difficult question to address.

‘We are not politicians,’ says Graeme McDowell as LIV golfers question human rights in Saudi Arabia |  Golf News

Please use Chrome browser for more accessible video player

McDowell hopes his participation in the LIV Series will not impact his potential participation in the Ryder Cup

McDowell hopes his participation in the LIV Series will not impact his potential participation in the Ryder Cup

Johnson: I don’t want to play golf for the rest of my life

Before this exchange, Sky Sports News Jamie Weir asked McDowell, Oosthuizen and McDowell if they only play for money.

Jamie Weir: You were asked at the very beginning of this press conference why you are here. You talked about the outgoing format, the teams, the novelty. I’m sorry if that’s a bit of a rude question to ask, but it’s basically all about the money you’re here for, isn’t it?

Louis Oosthuizen: This was probably going to be my last year on the PGA Tour. I’ve always said that when I got to that stage, around 40, I wanted to do something other than just golf in my life. I wanted to try something else. Everyone knows I like being on a farm, being outdoors. I was almost done and this opportunity presented itself. It was a decision between me and my wife and what was best for where I was right now. I’ll take it and play. I am a professional golfer. It’s decent money we’ll be playing for, so why not?”

‘We are not politicians,’ says Graeme McDowell as LIV golfers question human rights in Saudi Arabia |  Golf News

Please use Chrome browser for more accessible video player

Martin Kaymer admits the extra money he’ll earn from starring in the LIV series helps, but insists it’s not the only reason to join the tour

Martin Kaymer admits the extra money he’ll earn from starring in the LIV series helps, but insists it’s not the only reason to join the tour

Dustin Johnson: I did well on the PGA Tour, you all know that. I am very grateful for what they gave me. But it is something different. I don’t want to play golf for the rest of my life, which I felt like I was probably going to have to. I like to do a lot of things other than golf and it gives me the opportunity to spend more time with my family.

Graeme McDowell: The financial aspect of sport always counts. Myself, Dustin and Louis have been playing all over the world for 20 years chasing paychecks. Outside of the majors and the Ryder Cup, it’s a business. We love sports, we love competition, but the stock market we play every week, the money from appearances, we run business here.

The sacrifice we make by being away from our family – I hate to use the word sacrifice when we play golf for a living, it’s a pretty sweet life. But still, you’re away from your family 30, 35 weeks a year. It has to be worth it financially, otherwise it’s a big sacrifice you’re making for no reason. You always weigh in from a business perspective: what is the best financial outcome for me for the time spent?

Hopefully there are a few more years in the tank, but there are no more promises on the PGA Tour. An opportunity like this comes along where you can play the last three or four years of your career in a very financially lucrative environment, it would be crazy to walk away from it as a businessman.

Na: It’s uncomfortable | Gooch: I’m a golfer, I’m not very smart

‘We are not politicians,’ says Graeme McDowell as LIV golfers question human rights in Saudi Arabia |  Golf News

Please use Chrome browser for more accessible video player

There was a bizarre moment during Tuesday’s LIV series press conference where a reporter was denied a question for golfer Kevin Na

There was a bizarre moment during Tuesday’s LIV series press conference where a reporter was denied a question for golfer Kevin Na

Later, in a second press conference, American players Kevin Na and Talor Gooch were pressed against Saudi Arabia.

Martin Lipton, The Sun: Do you understand the argument you are contributing to, legitimizing a degree of sportwashing of Saudi Arabia and its regime? Do you think that’s a fair criticism?

Talor Gooch: I don’t think that’s fair. But I’m a golfer, I’m not that smart. I’m trying to hit a golf ball into a small hole. I’m trying to worry about golf and I’m excited about this week.

As the press conference drew to a close, a reporter attempted to ask about deferred payments but was stopped by LIV’s press officer.

Na replied, “It’s uncomfortable.”




Sky Sports

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.