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    9/11 Families Protest at Saudi-Backed LIV Golf Tournament

    The families are furious that former President Donald J. Trump once blamed Saudi Arabia for the terrorist attacks, but is now allowing his golf course to be used for its LIV Golf event.BEDMINSTER, N.J. — A somber and tearful group of protesters stood between two American flags behind a public library, in stark contrast to the festivities at a golf tournament three miles down the road. They made their statements and promoted their cause, but declined to take the fight to the gates of Trump National Golf Club Bedminster.“We are pleased that people are refocusing attention on this issue,” said Jay Winuk, one of the protest’s organizers. “There is no reason to go over to the scene where yet another atrocity is taking place.”The group, a band of family members of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, spoke vehemently against the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tournament being held this weekend at the club owned by a former president, Donald J. Trump.The group, 9/11 Justice, seeks to bring Saudi Arabian government officials, whom they assert supported the terrorists, to judgment. They are infuriated that Trump once agreed that the Saudi government was responsible, but has changed his tune, they said, to cash in on Saudi efforts to sanitize the nation’s global image through sports.“How much money does it take to turn your back on your country, on the American people?” said Juliette Scauso, who was 4 years old when her father, the firefighter Dennis Scauso, perished in the attacks.For days, the LIV golfers and Trump have defended their decisions to align with the breakaway tour and accept millions of dollars from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, which is overseen by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Critics of the tour say it is another example of the Saudis “sportswashing” atrocities attributed to them — supporting the 9/11 terrorists, killing the journalist Jamal Khashoggi and oppressing women and members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community.A protester wore a baseball cap in the style of former President Donald J. Trump’s campaign hat.Doug Mills/The New York TimesMichael Jessie, of Plainville, N.Y., was among the protesters objecting to the tournament.Doug Mills/The New York TimesTrump, who as a presidential candidate in 2016 blamed the Saudis for the 9/11 attacks, said on Thursday that “nobody’s gotten to the bottom of 9/11, unfortunately.”On Friday, the protesters had their chance to respond to both Trump and to the golfers. Many accused the golfers of cowardice for proclaiming sympathy with their cause while still accepting LIV Golf’s money.“You are taking a stand that you agree with the actions of Saudi Arabia or, just as bad, that you are so incredibly greedy and callous that you really don’t care about these atrocities,” Scauso said.The organizers came to the protest armed with copies of declassified F.B.I. documents, which they say establish a clear connection between 12 Saudi government officials and the terrorists in the months leading up to the attacks.“It’s simple,” said Tim Frolich, who was in the South Tower on 9/11. “The Saudis did it. They plotted it, they funded it, and now they are trying to distract every one of those things with a golf tournament 50 miles away from ground zero. It’s deplorable.”The group urged golf fans to boycott LIV Golf and asked golfers and anyone doing business with the Saudis, including broadcasters, to reconsider. On Friday morning, at a nearby Marriott serving as headquarters for the tour on its Bedminster stop, members of the group approached David Feherty, the former CBS and NBC golf analyst who has defected to join the tour even though it has no American broadcast television contract yet.Brett Eagleson, the president of 9/11 Justice, asked Feherty if he would listen and perhaps speak to the golfers about the choices they are making.“He was actually really receptive,” Eagleson said. “He was really open to working with us and having a partnership with us, as opposed to being combative. I’m hopeful.”Eagleson spoke with David Feherty, the former CBS and NBC broadcaster who has joined LIV Golf as a commentator.Doug Mills/The New York TimesBut Eagleson was far less conciliatory about Trump, who he said was more culpable than the golfers, because, as the former commander in chief, he should know better. Eagleson was part of a group that met with Trump at the White House on Sept. 11, 2019. They say Trump urged them to continue their work, which they did with vigor on Friday.Eagleson said Trump’s claim that “nobody’s gotten to the bottom of 9/11” outraged the family members of victims beyond their already simmering anger.“Our loved ones are the heroes,” he said, “and the golfers and the former president are cowards.”As the protesters spoke, several passing cars honked horns in support, but a few drivers yelled out in support of Trump and one yelled at the family members to go home.Winuk, whose brother, Glenn Winuk, a volunteer firefighter, died in the attacks, called the Saudi funds “blood money” and warned that anyone taking it would carry the “stench” of it forever.“LIV Golf?” he said. “For me and so many more of us, it’s more like death golf.”Several members of the group, including former Trump supporters, took turns at the lectern lambasting the Saudis, the golfers and the former president. When asked what else the group had planned, Eagleson broke down while explaining the exhaustion he and others in the organization felt.“I’m tired of fighting,” he said through the tears. More

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    LIV Golf Comes to Bedminster, and Trump Plays Host, and 18 Holes

    The former president’s barge-ahead style and whim for scooping up shots too hard to make wouldn’t fly on the LIV Golf series or the PGA Tour.BEDMINSTER, N.J. — Walking alongside Donald Trump as he plays golf is a lot like watching his presidency: He tells you how well he’s doing, mistakes are disregarded and the one constant is an endless stream of group photos with Trump blithely flashing a toothy grin and a thumbs up.It was as entertaining, revealing and inexplicable as it sounds.On Thursday, Trump was a contestant in the pro-am tournament on the eve of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf event he is hosting this weekend at the lavish golf course he built in northwestern New Jersey. The intent of the outing was to team some celebrities and everyday golfers with the professionals, and Trump was, naturally, in the featured first grouping of the day.While Trump played a plethora of golf rounds as president, other than his guests, few were able to witness his golf game during his four years in the White House. The news media was kept at a removed distance. But on Thursday, nearly 50 media members credentialed for the tournament — as well as some event officials — would accompany Trump on foot for 18 holes.Trump’s golfing party, which included security, drove in a dozen golf carts, generally two to a cart. But there was one cart predominantly occupied by a single person, and it was the only ex-president on the property at the wheel.Trump was grouped with Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau in the pro-am.Doug Mills/The New York TimesFor the pro-am, Trump was grouped with two of the best players to defect to the rival LIV Golf circuit from the PGA Tour: Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau, who have won three major championships between them.About 15 minutes late for his 10 a.m. tee time, Trump stepped onto the first tee dressed in a white shirt and black pants and sweating profusely under his signature MAGA hat. He looked pale. To be fair, at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, which has little shade, no one walking the grounds on a humid day with temperatures in the mid-90s was comfortable.Stepping onto the tee, Trump quickly became the focal point of more than a handful of photos. He would organize the lineup of the people in the picture, often giving instructions on who should stand where, like a concierge of photo ops.Finally, it was time to start the round, and Trump’s opening drive bounded into the left rough. But it was a respectable distance from the tee for a 76-year-old, roughly 220 yards.A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf SeriesCard 1 of 6A new series. More

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    Trump Criticizes PGA Tour and Praises Saudis for Backing LIV Golf

    The former president, who is hosting two LIV Golf events, including one this week at his course in Bedminster, N.J., made the remarks before teeing off in the pro am.BEDMINSTER, N.J. — Donald J. Trump praised the Saudi Arabian backers of a controversial new golf tournament Thursday, calling them his friends, while criticizing the traditional PGA Tour.The former president, wearing a white golf shirt and his signature red baseball cap emblazoned with his familiar campaign slogan, spoke briefly before teeing off in the pro-am segment of the LIV Golf event at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., which he owns.“I’ve known these people for a long time in Saudi Arabia and they have been friends of mine for a long time,” Trump said after taking practice swings on the driving range. “They’ve invested in many American companies. They own big percentages of many, many American companies and frankly, what they are doing for golf is so great, what they are doing for the players is so great. The salaries are going to go way up.”The LIV Golf series is bankrolled by the sovereign wealth fund, which is overseen by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In 2018, during Trump‘s presidency, American intelligence officials concluded that Prince Mohammed had authorized the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and journalist with the Washington Post. Trump, who criticized the Saudis on the campaign trail before his election in 2016, resisted their conclusions.The Bedminster club had previously been scheduled to host the P.G.A. Championship in 2022, but the P.G.A. of America moved it to Oklahoma after the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, saying that holding it at Bedminster would be “detrimental to the P.G.A. of America brand.” (The P.G.A. of America, which is separate from the PGA Tour, later reached a settlement with the Trump Organization.) Since then, Trump has sided with the upstart golf tour.A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf SeriesCard 1 of 6A new series. More

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    Why Do LIV Golfers Struggle to Explain Why They Left the PGA Tour?

    The latest golfers to join the Saudi-backed series were vague and defensive in the face of hard questions about guaranteed money and human-rights issues.BEDMINSTER, N.J. — Last month, Justin Thomas, the world’s seventh-ranked men’s golfer, summed up the feelings of PGA Tour players like himself who have rejected the sumptuous money offers of the rival, Saudi-backed LIV Golf series to remain with the established tour.Thomas just wants his former tour brethren now aligned with LIV Golf to say they jumped for the money. “Like, I personally would gain a lot more respect for that,” Thomas has said. “But the more the players keep talking and saying that this is for the betterment of the game, the more agitated and irritated I get about it.”On Wednesday, Thomas, who made his comments on the “No Laying Up” podcast, would have been repulsed anew by the words of the three latest defectors to the rebel tour who appeared at a news conference for a LIV series event that begins Friday at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey.“No, money was not a factor,” said Charles Howell III, 43, who was once ranked No. 15 worldwide but has slipped to No. 169. Howell insisted instead that he joined the breakaway circuit because golf “can be a force for change and good.”Paul Casey, ranked 31st in the world, also lamented that the focus of the new circuit’s successful recruiting efforts has been the bountiful money paid to jump ship.A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf SeriesCard 1 of 6A new series. More

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    Trump Embraces LIV Golf, Backing a New Saudi Strategy

    After decades of failure and rejection in sports, the former president’s New Jersey course will host a LIV Golf tournament this weekend, but the event is not simply about the golf.Donald J. Trump has long toyed with becoming a sports baron.He tried for years to buy an N.F.L. franchise and was a face of a second-tier football league that collapsed. He backed a would-be rival to Major League Baseball that never materialized and briefly put his name on a race for elite cyclists.Now, after decades of failure and rejection in sports, the former president is embracing an athletic gambit with an urgent craving for credibility: LIV Golf, the invitational series that has upended professional golf and, flush with money from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, is seen as another Saudi effort to use sports as a reputation sanitizer.Coming as the former president weighs another White House campaign and as diplomats navigate a complex relationship strained by Saudi Arabia’s human rights record — including the 2018 murder of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a source of international outrage that Trump has repeatedly played down — the Trump family’s choice to welcome LIV Golf to two of its courses this year carries the starkest geopolitical overtones of any of Trump’s sports forays.It could also undermine the get-tough message that many Republicans have sounded on Saudi Arabia, and it is making some of the Trump family’s ties to the kingdom decidedly, and defiantly, public.They roared into view as Trump, who has long been associated with golf and who was critical of Saudi Arabia as a presidential candidate, publicly pressed top athletes to defect from the PGA Tour to the LIV series, which has lured top players with offers of millions of dollars in guaranteed money. They will be displayed again this weekend, when the Saudi-backed series will hold a tournament at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey. And they are expected to surface again in October, when a Trump course near Miami is scheduled to host the final event of the year.LIV Golf’s logo outside the club house at Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, N.J.Doug Mills/The New York TimesOutside the pro shop at Trump National in Doral, Fla., where LIV’s final event of the year will be held.Scott McIntyre for The New York TimesLike much in Trump’s orbit, the deepening relationship, which could ultimately pose concerns about conflicts of interest if the former president ever returns to public office, is one of mutual convenience and murky provenance. It is not clear how much the Trump Organization will make from hosting the Saudi-financed events.Beyond any money, though, the company’s portfolio of courses is gaining fresh attention and, crucially to a former president who seeks adulation, a record of hosting some of the world’s finest golfers.And as Trump takes his place, for the moment, as a figure adjacent to big-time sports, the Saudi fund is picking up a former American president’s imprimatur on a strategy that has sometimes been condemned as “sportswashing.”“I think it’s money, it’s greed, it’s power,” said Brett Eagleson, the president of 9/11 Justice, which has raised questions about whether any Saudi officials had a role in the 2001 attacks.A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf SeriesCard 1 of 6A new series. More

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    Henrik Stenson Stripped of Ryder Cup Captaincy as LIV Golf Rift Widens

    Stenson was removed as he appeared set to join the Saudi-financed series. Former President Trump, whose course will host the next LIV series event, urged players to “take the money.”Saudi Arabia’s contentious effort to buy its way into professional golf created a new flash point in the sport on Wednesday with the announcement that Europe’s team for next year’s Ryder Cup was dropping its captain, Henrik Stenson of Sweden, just ahead of his expected move to the new Saudi-financed LIV Golf series.Stenson, who won his only major championship at the 2016 British Open, is set to become the latest player lured by the riches being offered by the LIV Golf series, which has upended the once polite world of professional golf since hosting its first event earlier this summer.By guaranteeing players more money than they could earn in the biggest tours and tournaments that make up the traditional golf calendar, the LIV series has created an ugly fissure in the golf world. The fight has split golf into two camps: a group of traditionalists that includes some of the sport’s titans, including champions like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, and a growing band of rebels, a group that includes Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and, soon, Stenson.“In light of decisions made by Henrik in relation to his personal circumstances, it has become clear that he will not be able to fulfill certain contractual obligations to Ryder Cup Europe that he had committed to prior to his announcement as Captain on Tuesday March 15, 2022, and it is therefore not possible for him to continue in the role of Captain,” Europe’s Ryder Cup team said in a statement. The announcement did not specifically reference Stenson’s expected defection to LIV.The Ryder Cup, a wildly popular event that pits a team of United States players against a European squad, is set to be played at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome next September. European officials said Stenson’s ouster would take place “with immediate effect,” and that they would name a new captain soon.A Quick Guide to the LIV Golf SeriesCard 1 of 5A new series. More

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    What Is LIV Golf? It Depends Who You Ask.

    Bold new project or crass money grab? Even golf’s best players can’t agree on the new Saudi-financed golf tour. Here’s what you need to know.The new Saudi-financed, controversy-trailed LIV Golf series, which is holding its first event this week at an exclusive club north of London, is the talk of golf. Not always, though, in the ways its organizers had hoped.But what is it? Who is playing it? What’s all the hubbub, and how can you watch it? Here’s what you need to know.What is LIV Golf?The new series, bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, is billing itself as “an opportunity to reinvigorate golf” through rich paydays, star players and slick marketing. “Golf but louder,” goes one of its slogans.LIV Golf’s organizers hope to position it as a player-power-focused alternative to the PGA Tour, which has been the highest level of pro golf for nearly a century.Its critics, which include some of the world’s best players, have labeled it an unseemly money grab.How much money are we talking about?The LIV Golf events are the richest tournaments in golf history — this week’s total purse is $25 million, with a $20 million pot for the individual event and $5 million more to split in the team competition. The winner’s share this week is $4 million, and the last-place finisher at each event is guaranteed $120,000.And that is on top of the appearance fees and signing-on payouts individual players have accepted. Phil Mickelson is being paid a reported $200 million to take part, and Dustin Johnson, the highest-ranked player to sign up-to-date, is said to have been tempted by an offer worth $150 million. Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed, two other top stars expected to compete in the next LIV series event in Oregon, will surely be expecting similar inducements to surrender their PGA Tour careers.Who are the players?The 48 players in the initial LIV Golf event were not exactly a who’s who of golf. There were, of course, big names and former major champions familiar to regular watchers of pro golf: Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio García, Ian Poulter, Louis Oosthuizen, Graeme McDowell.Sergio García eagerly renounced his PGA Tour membership to join the LIV Golf series.Paul Childs/Action Images Via ReutersBut the biggest names in golf stayed away: Tiger Woods said no despite an offer of nearly $1 billion, per Forbes, and Rory McIlroy has publicly rejected the idea. And a large number of the LIV players are probably strangers to even deeply committed golf fans: The American James Piot, for example, has only ever played in one of golf’s four majors, and missed the cut in it. David Puig is a 20-year-old Spanish amateur. Ratchanon Chantananuwat of Thailand is only 15.Not everyone is (or, rather, was) a PGA Tour member, either, which was why only 17 members of the LIV Golf Series were suspended by the tour on Thursday.Read More on Formula 1The 2022 season of the global motorsport, which is enjoying growing popularity and seeking to expand its appeal, is underway.Welcome to Miami: The city became the second U.S. city to host a Formula 1 race. The event featured massive parties, fashion shows and world-famous DJs.An American Conundrum: Liberty Media, which bought Formula 1 in 2017, wants to increase the sport’s popularity in the United States. Why, then, are there no American-born drivers?‘Drive to Survive’: The Netflix series about Formula 1 has been a hit. But the racer Max Verstappen has some bones to pick.Sharing the Spotlight: Drivers in the North America-based IndyCar racing series have welcomed Formula 1’s success. But some fear losing their fans to it.Why did the PGA Tour suspend them?The PGA Tour suspended the players because it requires members to request and receive a release to play in events that conflict with those on its schedule.The punishments were not a surprise: The PGA Tour had clearly signaled months ago that it would take action against any of its players who joined. So moments after the players hit their first shots in the debut event on Thursday, the tour dropped the hammer.“In accordance with the PGA Tour’s tournament regulations, the players competing this week without releases are suspended or otherwise no longer eligible to participate in PGA Tour tournament play, including the Presidents Cup,” the tour said in a statement to its members. It said the suspensions also applied to any PGA Tour affiliates — circuits like the lower-tier Korn Ferry Tour, tours in Canada and Latin America and, notably for the older players who joined the LIV series, the PGA Tour Champions series for golfers over 50.In addition, the PGA Tour said, the players who have resigned their memberships in the tour will be removed from the FedEx Cup points list — essentially ruling them out of the multimillion-dollar season-ending championship series — and are ineligible to use side doors like sponsor’s exemptions or past champion status to get into tour events.But in a letter explaining the suspensions to other pros, the tour’s commissioner, Jay Monahan, also included a direct warning to any players weighing offers to play in LIV Golf events when the series shifts to the United States later this month.“The same fate,” Monahan said of the bans, “holds true for any other players who participate in future Saudi Golf League events in violation of our regulations.”How did the players react?With a mix of caginess, disappointment and disdain. While the bans were announced almost as soon as the players hit their first shots, a few did not learn about the suspensions until they had completed their rounds.Phil Mickelson, whose participation has aroused the most interest, refused to comment, and the former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell said he had expected the punishment, and had already been in contact with lawyers.Ian Poulter insisted that he and the others in the field had not done anything wrong, and said he would appeal. “It makes no sense how I’ve played the game of golf for all this time, I’ve had two tour cards and the ability to play all over the world,” Poulter told reporters. “What’s wrong with that?”Sergio García, the Spanish player who had renounced his tour membership when he joined the LIV Golf Series, essentially said he didn’t care what the PGA Tour did. “I resigned a week and a half ago,” he said, “so whatever the PGA Tour says doesn’t — doesn’t go with me because I’m not a member.”That led to the following exchange with a reporter:Are you banned anyway?No, I’m not banned because I’m not a member of it.Not according to Jay Monahan?Well he received my letter. That’s up to him. It doesn’t bother me.Phil Mickelson was the biggest name to join the new series, but his comments about its Saudi backers have raised eyebrows, and led him into at least one apology.Matthew Lewis/Getty ImagesDo the players have genuine grievances?Some of the players who have signed up to the LIV series, and even many that have not, believe they are getting a raw deal from the PGA Tour. The biggest stars contend their earnings should be more commensurate with their status in the game, and they have pointed out how the best players in other sports earn far more than golfers do.Players and their representatives have often pointed out how golf’s main tours are able to secure hundreds of millions in television rights fees thanks to the star power of a handful of top tour professionals. But the money they make, however famous they are, has to be earned in the same way: through prize money. The career prize-money earnings of golf’s highest achievers, top stars like Woods or McIlroy, are equivalent to what the world’s best soccer players or an elite N.B.A. stars can earn from their teams in a single year. (To be clear: Both Woods and McIlroy have been able to make multiples of those on-course earnings through personal endorsements; Woods is reportedly now a billionaire.) Both have also earned sizable bonuses from the PGA Tour’s new program meant to measure a player’s appeal and popularity across the calendar year.But anger and action are different things: McIlroy is arguably the most high-profile opponent of the breakaway event among current tour players, and he has made several pronouncements that money should not be the main driver of golf’s development. And Woods also has spoken up in favor of the PGA Tour, reminding the world that much of his global fame is thanks to his achievements at tour events.How do the LIV Golf events work?LIV Golf has set up what are essentially shorter tournaments with smaller fields — three rounds instead of four, and with only 48 players competing instead of the rosters on the PGA Tour, which can be three times as large some weeks — and featuring concurrent individual and team play events.With the small field, there is no cut midway through the event to lop off the stragglers, and every round starts with a shotgun start, meaning players tee off from each hole on the course simultaneously and then proceed around the course’s layout from there.The LIV Golf individual competition will feel, in many ways, like a traditional golf event: three rounds, lowest score wins. The team event will see the players drafted by captains into four-man squads (teams with odd names, let’s be honest, like Fireballs and Majesticks) that will contest a separate competition, and for a separate prize pot, each week.This week’s leaderboard, for example, lists individual scores and team affiliations.How is that different from the PGA Tour?With rare exceptions, PGA Tour events generally consist of four-rounds of stroke play, in which players compete against one another to post the lowest score. And while the LIV Golf format might feel unusual for players and viewers, the ultimate goal — circle the 18-hole course in as few shots as possible — is the same.How many events are there?Eight this year, but plans to expand to 10 next year and even more in subsequent seasons are being drawn up. The first seven events this year make up what LIV Golf is calling its regular season. The eighth will be the team championship and include a four-day, four-round seeded match-play event.Those season-ending championships all include their own multimillion-dollar paydays for eligible players.Fans at the first LIV Golf event paid more than $80 each for the lowest-priced grounds passes.Matthew Lewis/Getty ImagesWhat’s with that name?LIV (rhymes with give) Golf chose Roman numerals for its name. If it’s been a while since you studied those in school, LIV translates to 54, which is the number of holes each player will complete in each event’s three-round format, which is one fewer round than a typical PGA Tour workweek, but for a lot more money.(Before you ask: The most recent N.F.L. championship game was Super Bowl LVI, or 56.)How can I watch?Despite its high-profile golfers and its big-money backing, LIV Golf has not yet secured a broadcast rights agreement in the United States — the most lucrative market for televised sports — and will be shown on lesser-watched streaming services in much of the world. (Here’s a full list of non-U.S. options.) That doesn’t mean you can’t watch in the United States, though: This week’s tournament will be available via live streams on LIVGolf.com, YouTube and Facebook.Normally, television networks would have jumped at the chance to show live sports during slow times on the calendar; witness yet another spring football league being shown on television. But ESPN, CBS, NBC and Amazon are in the first year of a nine-year agreement that has them collectively paying hundreds of millions of dollars annually to the PGA Tour to show tournaments. Those networks may have their fill of golf. They may also not want to court controversy, nor anger their business partner, the PGA Tour.History suggests, however, that if LIV Golf does prove to be a success, major rights agreements won’t be far behind. With consumers continuing to slowly abandon pay television, live sports is just about the only type of programming that delivers large, and lucrative, audiences anymore. And the streaming services that are luring those consumers away know that live sports is one of the best ways to get new customers, and keep old ones.So is this just a vanity project for Saudi Arabia?Not exactly. We asked Ben Hubbard, who covers the Middle East as the Beirut bureau chief for The Times and has written a book on Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, to explain the kingdom’s motivations in a bit more depth. His response:Saudi Arabia’s backing of the new series is the latest example of the way oil-rich Gulf monarchies use their vast wealth to invest in sports and cultural institutions in hopes of raising their countries’ international profiles and shifting how they are viewed by people in Western countries.Saudi Arabia’s investments in international sports and culture have accelerated rapidly since 2015, when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began his ascent to become the kingdom’s de facto ruler and spearheaded a massive overhaul aimed at opening up its economy and culture.For more that a decade, that effort has included governments hosting Formula One races and professional boxing and wrestling matches; opening branches of world-class museums and universities like the Louvre Abu Dhabi and Georgetown University in Qatar; and buying up European soccer clubs. (Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, which the crown prince leads as chairman, acquired the Premier League club Newcastle United last year.)Yasir Al-Rumayyan, in blue jacket, on Thursday. He is a governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which is financing the LIV Golf series, and the chairman of the Saudi-owned Premier League club Newcastle United.Matthew Lewis/Getty ImagesIn investing in golf, though, it appears that the Saudis are seeking to win over a different category of sports fan, according to Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, who studies Gulf politics at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.“They are looking for an older, more professional market to try to make inroads to, a wealthier demographic,” Ulrichsen said.That group includes fans of former President Donald Trump, and perhaps even Trump himself, with whom the crown prince enjoys a close relationship.Two of the LIV Golf Series events, in fact, will be at Trump-owned courses: the first in late July, at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., and the season-ending team championship in October, at Trump National Doral Miami.How has that gone over?Not always well. One of LIV Golf’s biggest signings, Mickelson, provoked outrage in February when he praised the series as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” even as he called Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights “horrible” and used an expletive to describe the country’s leaders as “scary.” The project’s main architect, the former player Greg Norman, made things worse a few weeks later when he dismissed Saudi Arabia’s murder and dismemberment of Khashoggi by saying, “Look, we’ve all made mistakes.”Not that the pro golf’s existing power structures, including the PGA Tour, hold the moral high ground.What’s next?The tour’s next four events are in the United States, starting with a stop at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club outside Portland, Ore., from June 30 to July 2, and then tournaments in New Jersey, Boston and Chicago. Trips to Thailand and Saudi Arabia follow, before the season-ending event in Florida. The full schedule is here.Kevin Draper contributed reporting. More

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    P.G.A. Championship Lands in Oklahoma After Leaving Trump Property

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }Capitol Riot FalloutVisual TimelineInside the SiegeNotable ArrestsCapitol Police in CrisisThe Global Far RightAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyAfter Leaving Trump Property, P.G.A. Championship Lands in OklahomaThe major had been set to be played at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, N.J. in 2022, until the P.G.A. of America pulled out, saying that holding it there would be “detrimental” to its brand.The P.G.A. of America, which conducts the tournament, said Monday that it had awarded its 2022 championship to the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.Credit…Rob Carr/Associated PressJan. 25, 2021Updated 9:36 p.m. ETThe 2022 P.G.A. Championship, which was withdrawn from Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., days after a mob incited by the former president stormed the Capitol in a riot that resulted in the deaths of five people, has been awarded to the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.The P.G.A. of America, which conducts the tournament, one of the four major men’s golf championships worldwide, announced the new site for the event Monday in a brief statement. The tournament will be played next year from May 19 to 22.For many years, Donald Trump had publicly lobbied each of golf’s governing bodies to bestow one of the sport’s featured championships to one of his golf courses. The Bedminster club hosted the 2017 United States Women’s Open, and his club in Virginia was the site of the 2017 Senior P.G.A. Championship.The P.G.A. of America chose Trump Bedminster to host the 2022 championship in 2014, before Trump was a candidate for president. But on Jan. 10, the organization’s president, Jim Richerson, said in a video statement: “It has become clear that conducting the P.G.A. Championship at Trump Bedminster would be detrimental to the P.G.A. of America brand, and would put at risk the P.G.A.’s ability to deliver our many programs, and sustain the longevity of our mission.”The next day, the chief executive of the R&A, the organization that conducts the British Open, said its flagship event would not return to Trump Turnberry, a golf course in Scotland owned by Trump, for “the foreseeable future.” Turnberry, purchased by Trump seven years ago, has hosted the British Open, the oldest of golf’s four men’s majors, four times, most recently in 2009. It previously hosted the Women’s Open in 2015.Robert Wood Johnson IV, the American ambassador to Britain during the Trump administration, told multiple colleagues in February 2018 that he had been asked to see if the British government could help Turnberry host the British Open again, according to three people with knowledge of the episode. The British government said Johnson made no request regarding the British Open and Trump denied asking Johnson to press such a move.While the resort was not scheduled to be the site of this year’s event, it was in consideration for the 2023 British Open.“We will not return until we are convinced that the focus will be on the championship, the players and the course itself and we do not believe that is achievable in the current circumstances,” Martin Slumbers, the R&A chief executive, said.Southern Hills has been the setting for four previous P.G.A. Championships, the last in 2007 when Tiger Woods won the tournament. The course also hosted three U.S. Opens from 1958 to 2001. Moving the P.G.A. Championship to Oklahoma also locates a men’s major in a noncoastal setting. This year’s U.S. Open will be contested near San Diego while the 2021 P.G.A. Championship will be held on Kiawah Island along the South Carolina shoreline.“Excited to return to SHCC for the fifth time,” the P.G.A. of America wrote on its website Monday. “The course offers a tough-but-fair test for the strongest field in golf.”Southern Hills was designed in 1936 but underwent an $11 million restoration led by the noted golf-course architect Gil Hanse two years ago.AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More