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Graeme McDowell says he received death threats telling him to ‘go die’ after joining LIV Golf tour


The golfers have been heavily criticized for joining the breakaway tour, which is backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) – a sovereign wealth fund chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia – for the “money taking” nature of the exodus from traditional golf tours and for accepting money from a country with a dismal human rights record.

Bin Salman was named in a US intelligence report as responsible for approving the operation that led to the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, although he denied any involvement. Human rights groups have also criticized the country for carrying out mass executions and for its treatment of gay people.

Ahead of the inaugural LIV Golf series event in June, when asked about accepting money from the Saudi regime, McDowell said the tour was “incredibly polarizing”.

“I think we’re all in agreement here, take the Khashoggi situation; we’re all in agreement that it’s reprehensible. No one will dispute that fact,” he told a conference Press.

“But we are golfers. Personally, I really feel like golf is a force for good in the world. I just try to be a great role model for kids. I know what the game of golf is. taught me. I love using the game of golf as something to help grow in the world. That’s pretty much what we’ve been for the past 20 years, being role models for kids and trying to use this game, as I say, as a force for good really.

“We are not politicians. I know you hate that expression, but unfortunately we really are not. We are professional golfers. If Saudi Arabia wanted to use golf as a means for them to get there where they want to be and they have the resources to accelerate that experience, I think we’re proud to help them on that journey by using the game of golf and the abilities we have to help grow the sport and take them where they want to be.”

Since that first event in London, as more and more players choose to join for a bigger salary, the scrutiny has only increased.

Ahead of its second event – ​​and its first on US soil – outside Portland, Oregon, last week, players and organizers faced protests from 9/11 survivors and families of victims who criticized the golfers for working with Saudi Arabia, which they said was complicit. during the terrorist attacks of 2001.

And for McDowell, winner of the 2010 US Open, this attention and this criticism has become a real burden.

Speaking to the BBC ahead of the JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor in Ireland, McDowell said he doesn’t “wake up and feel proud of me every day anymore”.

“I can’t activate my Instagram or Twitter account without someone telling me to go die,” the 42-year-old said on Monday. “I just wish I hadn’t said anything. I wish I was sitting there shaking my head and saying, ‘No comment’, but that’s not who I am.

“It’s really difficult because I get asked questions to which there are no good answers. My moral integrity is attacked all the time when all I’m trying to do is play golf.

“I’m trying to make a business decision for myself and my family. I’ve paid my dues in this game for the past 20 years, I’ve tried to behave in the right way.

“The tenuous links to what the Saudi regime has done… the awful things they’ve done – (those who criticized LIV Golf) try to link this to golf and playing professional golf.

Graeme McDowell says he received death threats telling him to ‘go die’ after joining LIV Golf tour

“I’ve played golf all over the world, in countries whose human rights record could also be torn to pieces.

“I never questioned being in China, the Middle East, anywhere in the world and what I do is I play professional golf. I play golf for money. money. I’ve been chasing that money all over the world my whole career. Do I research the morality of every dollar I’ve earned? No, I don’t.”

Led by former world No. 1 Greg Norman, the team-based LIV series is backed by the PIF and has pledged to award $250 million in total prize money. Tournaments are played over 54 holes, rather than the PGA Tour’s 72 holes, and no player is cut during the tournament.

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