Minutes after the start of the Saudi-backed LIV golf tournament, the PGA Championships, affiliated with the World Golf Professionals Association, on Thursday issued a decision banning 17 players from taking part in its tournament after joining the all-new competition joined.
The new LIV golf tournament funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund kicked off in North London on Thursday, with fans arriving at the Centurion Club in St Albans to see some of the sport’s biggest names play at the first event .
And the Saudis have signed on with the most famous names in the golf game to take part in their new championship after “luring them with money”, according to the New York Times newspaper, which said the Saudi-funded league is coming to competing with the BGA Championships, a tournament that has been the most important event for decades.And the highest level in the world golf championships and its first standard.
CNN says that the BGA Tour is still the most prominent golf competition in the world today. However, the new big money round offers a great opportunity to earn money for players all over the world, especially the emerging talents.
The threats to exclude the participating players from the professional BGA tournaments, especially for the American champions, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson, did not bear fruit.
Johnson, the former world number one and holder of two major championships, and the left-handed genius Mickelson, who is the second biggest player in the last twenty years after Tiger Woods, reacted to Saudi offers and overcame an obstacle that many believed be crossed.
“All this talk about money”
The BGA Championships announced that the players participating in the Saudi-backed LIV Championship – and any other player joining them – “will no longer be eligible to participate” in the rounds that began 93 years ago .
“These players made their choice for financial reasons of their own,” PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement. He warned other players who were tempted by Saudi offers that they would be subjected to the same penalties and expressed regret: “All this talk about money, money and more money.”
In addition to the Saudi funding for the entire competition, Jeddah will also host one of the LIV League rounds alongside a group of other cities in the world during October. BGA) after millions of dollars were awarded in prize money for the tournament.
The new Saudi-funded league has brought together 48 dissident players, inevitably seduced by exorbitant financial prizes of more than $ 250 million, spread over 8 rounds around the world, and in a unique format over three days without interruption. Among the 48 dissenting players, 16 stars are among the top 100 players in the world.
For the first round, which kicks off on Thursday and runs until Saturday in North London, $ 25 million will be handed out, as is the case for the next seven rounds, a figure that more than doubles for each of the four Grand Slams.
In turn, US star Phil Mickelson received $ 200 million to join the new project, according to the Daily Beast. And the player on Wednesday defended his decision to join the new competition in a press conference held in England.
“I understand that people have very strong opinions and may not agree with my decision, and I can sympathize with that,” Mickelson said. “But at this point, it gives me the opportunity to bring the most balance forward in my life, and I think that will do a lot of good for the game.” .
He added that he “never condones human rights violations” and did not want to disclose exactly how much he is being accused of rejecting the league in which he has played for so long. He continued, “I feel that contract agreements should be private. That does not seem to be the case, but it should be.”
In addition, says the New York Times, Saudi Arabia targets the structures and organizations that have ruled professional golf for nearly a century, which are different from buying a European football team or hosting a global sporting event with the goal of “sportwas”. “
The American newspaper added that Saudi Arabia’s sudden entry into the game of golf comes as part of a multi-level approach to change its stereotypical image as a rich and conservative kingdom, both externally and internally.
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These efforts have accelerated rapidly since 2015 when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began his rise to become the de facto ruler and led a comprehensive reform process aimed at opening up the kingdom’s economy and culture.
He started putting Saudi Arabia in the news in ways unrelated to his poor human rights record, his military intervention in Yemen, or the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in 2018.
“This is in line with the way the Saudis have used sport over the past five years, to try to project an image of the new kingdom and to move the story away from Khashoggi and Yemen and talk more about Saudi Arabia,” Kristian said. Coates Ulrichsen said. “Studying Golf Policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. Positive.”
Human rights organizations have long accused Saudi Arabia of using sport as a means of tarnishing its reputation to divert attention from its human rights record.
But the oil-rich Gulf kingdom says hosting major sporting events is part of its quest to attract more tourists, businesses and investment, as it launches reforms aimed at reducing its dependence on black gold income.
The new league is led by former Australian golf champion and businessman Greg Norman, who said last month that the competition was not organized for “sports washing” to cover up human rights violations that Saudi Arabia has repeatedly accused of committing.
In statements to the London newspaper “The Times” last month, and a similar interview with “Sky Sports News”, he said: “What happened to Khashoggi is reprehensible. I will not go into politics, I “I do not know what the Saudi government is doing. I do not want to go into that.” .
“Everyone makes mistakes,” he added.
Controversy and division continued in the game of golf, after the most prominent world stars were on their way to the new league. The New York Times reported that the prospects for the success of the Saudi-funded league are not yet clear.
Despite attracting prominent golfers, LIV tournaments could not obtain a media agreement in the United States for television broadcasting.
Nor could it attract major sponsors or broadcast partners such as ESPN, CBS, NBC and Amazon, which provide millions of dollars to the BGA.
But its immediate appeal to players and seemingly unlimited financial resources, according to the New York Times, could eventually have repercussions for the BGA tour, as well as for the companies and broadcasters who worked to build professional golf.