A group representing the families of victims and survivors of the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States has accused the high-profile American players in the LIV Golf Series of sports laundering and treason to their country.
In a letter to agents of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Kevin Na, 911familiesunited.org expressed their outrage at the players’ attendance at the Saudi-backed events.
“As you may know, Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 9/19 hijackers were Saudis,” wrote the organization’s national chair Terry Strada, a mother of three whose husband Tom was on the 104th floor of the North Tower of the World Trading center during the attacks.
“It was the Saudis who cultivated and propagated the evil, hateful Islamist ideology that inspired the violent jihadists in the deadly 9/11 attacks.
“And most egregiously, it is the kingdom that has spent 20 years in denial: lying about its activities and cowardly evading the responsibilities it bears. But these are your partners and to our great disappointment you seem delighted to do business with them.
“Please do not insult the memories of our loved ones or take the pathetic position as one of your foreign colleagues did last week by claiming you are ‘just golfers playing a game’ or the evils of the Saudi regime politely treat as “human rights” concerns.
“They are all Americans who are acutely aware of the death and destruction of 9/11. Whether it was calling for millions of dollars in cash or just an opportunity to pursue your professional grievances with the PGA, you sold us.
“This is not only a betrayal of us, but of all your countrymen.”
Former Masters champion Patrick Reed and world No. 168 Pat Perez are the latest players to join LIV Golf on Saturday.
Reed became the 19th PGA Tour member to sign with the Breakaway circuit, with the 17 taking part in this week’s first £20m event, which was suspended from the Tour once play got underway at the Centurion Club on Thursday .
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said that “the same fate applies to all players” attending future LIV events despite being denied permission, with Reed, Bryson DeChambeau and now Perez the second event in Portland at the end of the be disputed monthly.
“I’m super excited,” Reed said. “Just the thought of being able to be part of an evolution and a change in golf for the better is incredible.
“I spoke to some of the guys after the first and second rounds and they told me how well the tournament is going and how many fans, how much energy and excitement they have. Portland can’t get here fast enough.”
On the course, former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel bagged a whopping $4.75m (£3.85m) with his wins in both the individual and team events.
Schwarzel carded a final round of 72 to finish seven-under par and a shot ahead of Hennie Du Plessis, while Branden Grace was a shot down alongside Peter Uihlein.
The South African trio were part of Stinger Golf Club in the four-man team event, meaning they – and teammate Louis Oosthuizen – shared $3million, with Schwartzel’s first prize of $4million matching his earnings from the last four Seasons matched PGA Tour.