Not everyone is happy to see the LIV Tour come to town

Updated: July 30, 2022

When the money started to be offered, some players on various world tours took notice. When the source of the money was discovered, most, but not all, said thanks but no thanks.

Some big-name players considered the offer of outrageous money and put a deal together with the new LIV Tour. Players like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson Dechambeau and Brooks Koepka all have abandoned the PGA Tour for the big bucks from the LIV Tour, which is funded by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. The beginning of the LIV Tour has created panic, confusion, and backlash because of where the money was coming from and the disruption to the PGA and European tours.

Many are against Saudi Arabia and their human rights record. There is overwhelming evidence and examples of why Saudi money is tainted.

Saudi Arabia has been accused of wide-ranging human rights abuses, including politically motivated killings, torture, forced disappearances and inhumane treatment of prisoners. And members of the royal family and Saudi government were accused of involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist.

Ever since Mohammed bin Salman became crown prince of Saudi Arabia in 2017, he has centralized state power and tightened his grip on the most fundamental rights, with the largest crackdown on freedom of expression in the country’s history and wide-scale prosecution of human rights defenders.

A Saudi national Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah who swerved around a car that had been stopped at an intersection in Portland and hit and killed Franklin High School sophomore Fallon Smart. Noorah was arrested and right before he was to face trial, he cut off his tracking monitor and was escorted out of the country, never to be seen again or face trial.

These types of stories are awful. But when you dive into Saudi Arabia and their dealings with the United States you might be surprised to learn that the U.S. has sold over $64 billion in weaponry to the Saudis between 2015 and 2020. In the U.S. we are dependent on the oil that Saudi Arabia sends our way. The Saudis have a history of investing in things like Formula 1, World Wrestling Entertainment, horse racing and they even own 80 percent of an English Premier League team.

So, it’s no surprise for them to control a professional golf tour that seems to be growing, and luring big names from around the world. When the Saudis and their tour leader Greg Norman started throwing ridiculous amounts of money around, some big-name players listened. Phil Mickelson signed for a reported $200 million. Dustin Johnson was given a deal for $150 million. Bryson Dechambeau and Brooks Koepka’s deal is said to be also north of $100 million. This is life changing money and is more than any player has, or will ever make, in winnings on the PGA Tour in a lifetime. Tainted Saudi money or not, it is hard to say no.  These are hard decisions and controversial decisions, but players feel the need to take care of their family’s inheritance.

The LIV Tour has eight tournaments set up in its inaugural run. There is no cut, so every player gets a payday just for showing up. It started in London before heading to the Pacific Northwest and Pumpkin Ridge for the second tournament. Branden Grace won the three-round tournament and the $4 million first-place check. Even the last place finisher collected $120,000. Not a bad three days’ work.

There was controversy around the event at Pumpkin Ridge, as a protest featuring Fallon Smart’s family and some family members of 9-11 spoke out about their opposition to the tournament. Even the mayors of several local towns signed a proclamation expressing their disappointment with the event.

But the tournament went on as planned and resembled a PGA Tour stop with hospitality tents, a media center, that rivaled anything at a PGA Tour stop, television towers on all the holes, a big stage for a series of post-tournament concerts and some big name golfers playing – like Johnson, Dechambeau, Koepka, Mickelson. It’s odd that none of these players will say they are doing it for the money. But ask a guy like Pat Perez and he will tell you why these guys are doing it – he admits it’s for the crazy amount of money.

Love it or hate it, it looks like this tour is here to stay, for a while anyway.