PORTLAND, Ore. — LIV Golf arrived in the United States Tuesday morning, as the Saudi-backed golf league held a news conference at its first American-based event at Pumpkin Ridge, located about 20 miles west of Portland’s city center. Play begins Thursday.
The organization’s three newest golfers — all recent defectors from the PGA Tour — spoke about their decision to join LIV, the unconventional and controversial tour that’s scheduled to play four events in the US in the coming months.
And while questions were posed to each Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Wolff and Abe Ancer about the controversy surrounding LIV, none was eager to talk about it.
“We’re golfers, we’re providing entertainment globally and will continue to do so,” DeChambeau said, adding later that he thinks “moving on” from that part of the conversation is “important.”
Saudi Arabia has been accused of wide-ranging human rights abuses, including politically motivated killings, torture, forced disappearances and inhumane treatment of prisoners. And members of the royal family and Saudi government were accused of involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist.
“Golf is a force for good,” DeChambeau said. “As time goes on, hopefully people will see the good they’re (the Saudis) doing. And what they’re trying to accomplish, rather than looking back at the bad that’s happened before.”
Each of them did acknowledge that money was absolutely a factor in their moves; DeChambeau called it “a personal business decision.” Wolff said the team component of LIV was especially appealing to him.
“In college I felt like I really thrived,” said the 23-year-old Wolff, who won the 2019 NCAA individual championship while at Oklahoma State. “There’s something to be said about playing hard for yourself and for your caddy but when you know people are relying on you, it’s different. The best comes out when you’re on a team. That dynamic really suited me.”
All three mentioned the LIV’s schedule, which will allow players to take more and longer breaks than the PGA schedule, theoretically giving players additional time to rest and a better shot at achieving the coveted work-life balance.
“The last two to three years, I’ve been giving my all to golf, I haven’t really had a life outside of golf,” said Ancer. “I missed spending time with my family and friends and I wasn’t as happy.”
As for concern about potential plummeting rankings and how that could impact their eligibility for majors, Ancer acknowledged it could be an issue.
“Of course it matters,” Ancer said. “I definitely want to play in majors, and we already have a pretty strong field and a pretty strong case here. It would be kinda crazy to not get any points (from LIV events). I’m definitely banking on having some points going forward. Hopefully it gets resolved.”
And what if they’re not able to play in majors this year or next?
“We’re talking about today,” Wolff said curtly.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Bryson DeChambeau says Saudi Arabia doing good with LIV golf tour