Bryson DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open champion who was one of the first big names to sign up for LIV Golf, says he feels bad for the players who stayed loyal to the PGA Tour as he defended the Saudi-backed league.
In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, he also defended Saudi Arabia, whose Public Investment Fund backs LIV. Several advocacy groups, including 9/11 Families United, a group of nearly 2,500 survivors of family members killed or injured in the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, released statements criticising the new agreement. CNN’s Kaitlan Collins also pressed DeChambeau on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, including the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“I mean, look, it’s unfortunate what has happened but that is not something I can speak on because I’m a golfer,” DeChambeau said. “What I can say is that, what they’re trying to do is be better allies, because we are allied with them. I’m not going to get into the politics of it, I’m not specialised in it. But what I can say is they’re trying to do good for the world and showcase themselves in a light that hasn’t been seen in a while. Nobody is perfect but we’re all trying to improve in life.”
He added: “As time has gone on, 20 years has passed [since 9/11], and we’re in a place now where it’s time to try to work together to make things better together as a whole… I have a huge amount of respect for [the 9/11 families’] position and what they believe. Nor do I want anything like that to occur again. I think as we move forward from that we have to look towards a pathway to peace. Especially in forgiveness. Especially if we’re trying to mend the world and make it a better place. This is what… LIV is trying to accomplish.”
The PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf League ended their bitter two-year dispute and announced an agreement on Tuesday to form one unified commercial entity.
“I do feel bad for the PGA Tour players because they were told one thing and something else happened, and our side, we were told one thing and it’s come to fruition,” DeChambeau told CNN. “It does stink a little bit from my perspective that the PGA Tour players are not necessarily winning. I hope they can find a way to make sure that they are valued in the same way that we are over at LIV. I think that’ll happen. It’s just going to take some time.”
The shockwaves from the deal will reverberate for some time. The PGA Tour commissioner, Jay Monahan, faced calls to resign at a meeting with players at the Canadian Open in Toronto, where he was called a “hypocrite”.
The most aggrieved players are likely to be those who turned down huge sums from LIV Golf to remain loyal to the PGA Tour, only to see the tours agree to work together.
DeChambeau also defended Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the Public Investment Fund, who will chair the board of the new entity.
“What I can tell you is that... Yasir has always been a staunch supporter of golf globally and wanting to grow the game,” DeChambeau said. “That’s been his vision from the start, when we first started talking a few years ago. As it’s come to fruition now, I think this is the best thing that could ever happen to the game of golf.”