Saudi Arabia’s LIV Golf Series Promotes Genteel World of Golf

LONDON – Golfers sat in their seats at a press conference to promote their new Saudi-sponsored competition as a journalist raised an unfortunate question about the history of the oil-rich empire. United States Open 2010 contestant Graeme McDowell, clearly to his teammates, went on to say.

“If Saudi Arabia wants to use the game of golf as a way to get where it wants to go,” he said. McDowell said“I think we are proud to help them on this journey.”

The trip, however, is the point: The Saudi-sponsored project, called the LIV Golf Invitational Series and kicks off Thursday at a special club outside London, represents nothing less than a gruesome hijacking of all games, which is a reality. a team, consisting of the best golfers who received his prize in a multi-billion dollar war.

In contrast to the ridiculous purchase of a European football team or the hosting of a major international tournament, Saudi Arabia’s involvement in golf is not just a sign, not another attempt by the country to use its wealth to redefine its global reputation – a clean-up approach from game wash.

Instead, Saudi Arabia seeks to seize golf by winning, or by scoffers, buying the loyalty of some of the world’s top players. It has been a daunting task – offering nine people, guaranteed pay per capita – but it has been looking directly at golf clubs and organizations for nearly a century.

While the potential for Saudi success is not clear – the list does not have a free television video deal or a lot of business revenue needed to reduce its starting costs – its direct appeal to players with seemingly unlimited revenue. Finally there will be the outcome of the 93-year-old PGA Tour as well as corporate sponsors and broadcasters who have made professional golf a multi-billion dollar business.

“It’s a shame it’s going to ruin the game,” four-year-old senior Rory McIlroy said this week, adding, “If people are confused about who’s playing this week’s game and say, ‘Oh, he. ‘it’ s just so confusing. “

Those who volunteered to play at the first event of this week’s LIV Series have tried (not always well) implement their decisions as to golf, or decisions that will protect the financial future of their families. However by allowing the Saudi economy to add their sheen to its project, they have put themselves in the middle of a storm in which fans and human rights groups doubt their intentions; PGA Tour has threatened to suspend them; and sponsors and organizations cut off relationships or at least isolating themselves.

All of this has sparked controversy over popular sportsmanship, which is so self-sacrificing in terms of honors and sports that players have to face disciplinary action if they break its rules.

Saudi Arabia, of course, is not the first country to use the game as a platform to burn its international reputation, seeking to reform itself and its economy by looking at all aspects of human rights abuses to the point of total control and even terrorist financing. . Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, which will host the World Cup at the end of this year, have all invested heavily in international matches over the past two decades.

But Saudi Arabia’s golf tour could be a major attempt by the Gulf state to disrupt existing sporting systems: Instead, it is trying to use its resources to lure players away from the most popular and best sports. – established a golf course, the PGA Tour, to create a new league. Not that many of the players taking part this week were eager to talk about these goals.

McDowell admitted much in response to a question that, among other things, sparked Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen and the killing of 81 of its citizens in March. “We just came,” he said, “to look at the golf course.”

Other than that, it has been a difficult start. Even before the first ball hit this week at the Centurion Club outside London, the cash-strapped LIV Series – sponsored by Saudi Arabia’s finance fund – proved to be a source of controversy. One of his biggest signatures, Phil Mickelson, was outraged in February when he hailed the list as a “one-time opportunity” even though he acknowledged Saudi Arabia’s “bad” reputation for human rights and used abusive language to describe it. government of a “dangerous” country. The project’s main expert, former player Greg Norman, made things worse a few weeks later when he condemned Saudi Arabia’s assassination and the ouster of Saudi critic and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying, “Look, we’ve all made a mistake.”

Many, but not all, top players around the world have rejected the idea: McIlroy, for example, dismissed the project as a money laundering operation in February. Wednesday, saying he understands the motivations of the players he joined, he also said he could not make the same decision. “If only money,” McIlroy said“It doesn’t seem to be going your way.”

Even the lack of opportunity for LIV Series players to defend their decisions to the press this week is often difficult. At a press conference on Wednesday, a group of players were asked if they would take part in the Vladimir V. Putin Russia tournament in Russia or apartheid in South Africa.if the amount was correct. ” In the past, Korean actor Kevin Na was caught on a microphone saying, “This is not fun,” as his own. press conference he finished with a British journalist shouting loudly.

Despite the recurring storm, many of the players who arrived in London this week for the first event of the series, the most lucrative golf tournament in history, seem unprepared for the tough questions. Many have tried to twist the questions by claiming to be golfers, or by thinking of golf as the best power in the world. But a few were also disappointed when asked how the culture grew in selling their talents to Saudi Arabia as part of an effort to refine its image through its dramatic and intriguing play.

In a difficult exchange, a group consisting of three top winners – McDowell, Dustin Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen – questioned who should answer a question that included claims about Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women and men.

Most players, however, seem to have money that is about to run out. The reported $ 150 million for Johnson, the highest paid player to jump on the new list, could double the total amount of money he earns in his career. The amount awarded to the last Centurion winner this week is $ 120,000, which is $ 120,000 more than the last coming on the PGA Tour is worth it. The $ 4 million winner’s check, meanwhile, is three times more than the winner’s share of this week’s PGA Tour event, the Canadian Open.

The money, perhaps, could be the biggest attraction for LIV Golf at the moment: Two other major players, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed, say they are close to agreeing on equal pay days to join the list when they move to the United States this summer. , including a trip to New Jersey for two events planned for Donald Trump’s studies.

Golfing in Saudi Arabia is one of the most intense and intense sports events as a way for the empire to achieve the political and economic goals of its leader, Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Similar tensions over Saudi interests have long been felt in other sports, including boxing, car racing, and international football.

But where the old Gulf ambitions were often like a game-selling game, the sudden pushing of golf for Saudi Arabia’s financial institution, the Public Investment Fund, seems like a vicious attack to control all sports, anyway. price For example, Tiger Woods refused nearly $ 1 billion to participate in the LIV Series, and some high-profile stars have turned their heads.

Undoubtedly, the most famous, and perhaps the most controversial, co-host of the series is Mickelson, a six-year-old superhero who for many years was one of the most popular and best-selling players on the PGA Tour. He made no secret of the fact that his interest was linked to his mockery of the PGA Tour, which he is accused of “dirty greed.”

After being widely criticized and criticized for his remarks on Saudi Arabia earlier this year, as well as the election of several who helped him end his relationship, Mickelson on Wednesday reappeared in public but declined to elaborate on his relationship with him. LIV or discuss PGA. “I see the partnership agreements as being confidential,” said Mickelson, who claims to be receiving $ 200 million to participate.

Any hope that Mickelson, a new Saudi co-worker or financier can urgently have the issue to take action on the course of action, is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

“I do not condone human rights abuses,” Mickelson said in a statement last week.

Soon, wearing shorts and a windmill, he went to the first tee, where he and a member of the Public Investment Fund, Yasir al-Rumayyan, led the opening team in the first LIV Series Pro-Am.

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