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Golf

Much more than money: LIV golfers explain their PGA exit

Golfers involved in the LIV Golf Tour insist their decision to participate wasn’t just based on money as they head to Trump’s golf club this Friday.

Update:

The controversial LIV Golf tournament is set to hold its third event this Friday, July 29, at controversial President Donald Trump’s Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

The Saudi-funded event was already controversial to begin with, and the golfers participating have lost their membership in the PGA Tour. Because of its ties with Saudi Arabia, the tour is seen as an attempt to improve public image despite human rights abuses. Several corporate sponsors have dropped the golfers who left the PGA Tour to join LIV Golf. Now that the third event is being held at Trump’s club, uncomfortably close to the site of the 9/11 attacks, it’s caused even more controversy. Families of 9/11 victims urged Trump not to hold the event, to no avail. Trump has publicly dismissed concerns over human rights in Saudi Arabia. There are planned protests for the time of the event.

How do the LIV golfers defend their decision?

Though human rights groups have questioned the LIV Golf organizers and golfers about the involvement of Saudi Arabia in the tour, they are insistent that LIV Golf is good for the sport and good for their personal lives. The golfers will receive large purses and guaranteed payouts. Most of the golfers themselves, however, insist it’s not all about money for them, but rather a new experience.

“There’s a lot more to my decision of sitting here than just a financial opportunity and less golf,” said English golfer Paul Casey. “But I was very aware of the ramifications of making this choice.”

Most of the golfers agreed that it’s about more than money, but several didn’t explain exactly what the appeal was, besides it simply being something different to the usual PGA Tour.

“I played 608 events on the PGA Tour,” said golfer Charles Howell III. “22 years with the PGA Tour, I was ready for this, for a change.”

The total purse for the first tournament of the LIV Golf Tour was $25 million with the winner’s share being $4 million. Las place received a guaranteed $120,000. The events are among the richest in the history of golf.

Golfer Jason Kokrak had said he was hesitant to quit the PGA Tour and join LIV, but something ended up convincing him. At the event in Portland, Oregon, Pat Perez hit 80 in the final round, finished 29th, and won $153,000 in singles and $750,000 as part of the team.

“This gives me a new perspective,” said Kokrak. “It invigorates me. It’s another blessing.”

Invigorating, indeed.

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