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'We're here to play golf' | Controversial LIV league makes Northern Virginia stop

The Saudi-backed league will play its Memorial Day tournament at the Trump National Club in Sterling.

STERLING, Va. — A highly contested new golf league making a stop in Northern Virginia over Memorial Day weekend has family members of the Sept. 11 attacks riled up.

The controversial LIV Golf League arrived in Sterling Wednesday for a tournament at the Trump National Golf Club. The league is bankrolled by Saudi Arabia, which has been accused of using LIV Golf to “sports wash” a history of human right abuses and terrorism.

Terry Strada blames the Saudi government for helping to orchestrate the 9/11 attacks that killed 3,000 people in D.C., Pennsylvania and New York, including her late husband Tom, who worked in the Twin Towers. As the national chairwoman of 9/11 Families Untied, Strada has called on American golfers, including Bryson DeChambeau, to renounce their membership in the LIV Golf league.

“They’re sending the message that Saudis are good guys,” Strada said. “That they’re just trying to improve the game of golf. And there’s no truth to that. They’re not good guys at all.”

Once ranked the numberf four golfer in the world and a U.S. Open Champion, DeChambeau left the PGA Tour in June 2022 to join the Saudi-backed league. He’s one of the biggest American names in professional golf to sign on to LIV Golf. 

“I mean, look, we’re here to play golf,” DeChambeau said during his media availability at Trump National Wednesday. “We’re contracted to play golf. And I think the most important part is to provide great entertainment wherever possible and whatever platform that is.”

LIV is financed through the Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. The league has recruited players like DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson, and PGA Champion Brooks Koepka, with signing fees reportedly ranging between $100 and $200 million. 

Amnesty International says Saudi Arabia has one of the worst human rights records in the world. In addition to their alleged role supporting Al-Qaeda in the Sept. 11 attacks, something the Saudi government has long denied, the National Intelligence Agency said Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud approved an operation to murder Washington Post Journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 for being publicly critical of the regime.

In 2022, shortly after founding LIV Golf, Amnesty International says the Saudi government carried out the single largest mass execution in recent decades, putting 81 citizens and foreign nationals to death in a single day. But DeChambeau, who was booed loudly by fans in New York at a recent PGA Championship, says people should not question his ethics for taking Saudi money to join LIV.

“When you can talk about ethics that’s people’s perception, and I completely disagree with it,” DeChambeau asid. “But everyone has the right to their own opinion and I’d say that was it worth it absolutely. This has been beyond my dreams. I think over the course of time you will see what good and positive impact we’re having. And I hope the media and everybody can see the light we are trying to bring”

But Strada said American players participation in LIV comes down to nothing more than sheer greed.

“Where is their moral compass,” Strada asked. “And what do they tell their children on September 11? We work for the regime that killed these people. It’s just so awful.”

LIV Golf declined comment on Strada’s sports-washing allegations.

Strada wrote a letter to Former President Donald Trump asking to meet with him at his Loudoun County golf club this week about his support of the LIV Golf League. This is one of three LIV events being played this year at Trump courses. Thus far, she has not heard back from the former president.


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