Professional sports are cutthroat businesses, and speaking of cut throats, Saudi Arabia’s brutal dictator Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has decided to blow up the professional golf world.
Have you ever watched a professional golf tournament in Saudi Arabia? I have.
Unlike PGA events here where throngs marvel at the skills of golf’s best players, the few attendees at the kingdom’s events are ex-pats, Europeans and Americans, not a flowing white robe in sight, because the average Saudi doesn’t give a whit about golf.
They’re more into soccer, motor sports, and public beheadings.
Nevertheless, a number of big-name PGA professionals have succumbed to the barrels of oil money thrown at them by MBS and turned their backs on the PGA tour that made them famous in order to compete on the Saudi’s LIV tour.
For the uninitiated, LIV is the Roman numeral number 54, which is the number of holes the golfers play at each tournament as opposed to the PGA’s 72-hole tournaments. On the LIV tour, there is no 36-hole cut. You get paid for showing up and it matters not how poorly you play. The last place player collects $120,000, which at one time on the PGA, was first place money.
Given the general indifference to golf in Saudi Arabia, why the sudden enthusiasm for international pro golf?
It’s called “sportswashing,” as in attempting to make the civilized world forget about the kingdom’s horrific human rights record, be it the state-sponsored murder of an esteemed Saudi journalist, or its mistreatment of women, or its brutal campaign against Yemen.
And those are just the atrocities we know about. What other abominations MBS and his henchmen have committed is anybody’s guess.
Ah, but money talks and the ex-president is listening. He staged an LIV tournament last weekend at his posh Bedminster, N.J. resort despite the objections of many 9/11 families who know 16 of the hijackers were Saudi nationals.
Who financed the 9/11 terrorists remains an open question, but all of this makes me wonder what’s next? What other professional sports will the Saudi’s hijack?
There’s a good reason the ex-president holds his “Save America” rallies in places like Buffalo Breath, Neb. and Palookaville, S.C., but never in the Northeast, cities like New York or Boston, where he is about as welcome as toenail fungus.
That’s how it went at the LIV tournament he hosted, where the normally big local crowds that show up for PGA events at Winged Foot Country Club in suburban New York City, largely shunned the LIV tourney; $75 tickets were selling for a buck on StubHub by last Friday.
While the former guy, his spawn, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-14), and Fox News blowhard Tucker Carlson warmly welcomed MBS’s golf tournament, under orders from President Biden, the CIA blew to bits Al Qaeda leader and 9-11 planner Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was hiding in Kabul in violation of the agreement the ex-president negotiated.
And while we’re on the topic of the war on terror, last week Senate Republicans Ted Cruz of Texas and Steve Daines of Montana fist bumped after blocking spending that would aid veterans exposed to the open burning of toxic materials in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many of our heroes now have cancer or other diseases. The measure passed the Senate Tuesday, but the picture of the Cruz and Daines anti-vet celebration is indelible.
I have worked with many professional athletes. To get to the point where they can compete at an elite level, regardless of the sport, they must be singularly focused on their discipline, which explains why the sports agent business is booming.
Unlike the athlete, the agent’s singular focus is money, and at least for some pro golfers, the Saudis made the decision to leave the PGA an easy one. If their buckets of cash are dripping blood…well…meh.