LIV Golf travels to Oregon, where local officials are sad

LIV Golf, backed by Saudi Arabia, received a wonderful welcome in Oregon, its first stop in the United States.

Next week, the series, which pays huge signing fees to players like Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, will hit the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in small North Plains, located in the rolling hills west of Portland.

But the mayor of North Plains, as well as city officials from the area, wrote with concern to the club’s owner, Escalante Golf. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has spoken out against the championship, and some dear club members are also uneasy about this situation.

Opponents point to Saudi human rights abuses, including the assassination of US journalist Jamal Hashoji. But in Oregon, there is also anger over the injury of the 15-year-old Fallon Smart in 2016.

Saudi student Abdul Rahman Samir Noura was on trial for premeditated murder when he removed a surveillance device and disappeared. U.S. authorities believe the Saudi government helped organize a fake passport and provided a private plane to return to Saudi Arabia. Case presented in “60 minutes”.

“It’s wrong to remain silent when Saudi Arabia tries to clear blood on its hands, in a fight for Oregonians to get justice – Fallon Smart was killed near our house in southeast Portland, and the man from the crime accused is injured. “Death and escape, based on all the evidence, the Saudis suspended him before he could stand trial,” Weeden said in an interview with The Associated Press.

There are also fears that the incident could lead to protests in North Plains, a town with just 3,400 residents. Event tickets prohibit fans from displaying any political banners.

“We are against this incident because it is supported by an oppressive government whose human rights violations have been documented. We refuse to support these abuses by jointly allowing a Saudi-backed organization to play in our backyard, ”a letter signed by Northern Plains Mayor Terry Lanhan. He and 10 other mayors of neighboring cities.

Weeden accuses the Saudi government of washing sports.

“This is just a page from the playbook of autocrats covering injustice by abusing athletics in the hope of normalizing their abuse,” he said.

The event also put Pumpkin Ridge members in a difficult situation. Some decided to leave the club during the tournament, but it was not clear how much was left.

“A lot of friends are stuck between a rock and a hard place right now because they do not agree with him politically at all,” Beaverton friend Kevin Palmer said. “But I also joined last year and dropped about $ 12,000, and if I leave I will not get that money back.”

Greg Norman is the CEO of LIV Golf Investments and the face of the circuit aimed at participating in the PGA Tour. The 48-player tournament in Portland will compete for $ 20 million in singles and $ 5 million in team play, with 12 teams to be announced daily Tuesday after the draft.

Johnson, who has been the No. 1 in the world more than any player since Tiger Woods, and six-time major champion Mickelson were among the first big names to join. As Portland added Bryson de Champagne, Brooks Kobaca and Patrick Reed, they are all big champions, although not one of the current top 20 players in the rankings.

During the PGA Tour, each member participated in the first LIV event because it did not have conflicting publications. Those in Portland will also be suspended upon submission.

The tour usually hosts three such issues per year, just for tournaments abroad, and does not allow its members to compete in tournaments held in North America.

The Portland event takes place the same week as the John Deere Classic in Illinois.

“The PGA Tour, an American institution, cannot compete with a foreign kingdom that spends billions of dollars trying to buy golf,” Commissioner Jay Monahan said last week. “We welcome good and healthy competition. The Saudi Golf League at LIV is not. It is an irrational threat, a threat that does not worry about the return on investment or the real growth of the game. ”

This year’s LIV tour consists of eight events, five of which are in the United States. After stopping in Portland, the tour moves to Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster.

Escalante Golf of Texas, owner of Pumpkin Ridge and another LIV series course, did not respond to a request for comment.

“We believe we have a moral obligation to take a stand and speak out against this incident to protect the people we serve,” the mayors wrote in their letter to the company. “While our local jurisdictions will not be able to prevent this event, we stand together to express our concern about the potential risks, visitors and damage that this event may prevent in our communities.”

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