PORTLAND, Oregon — LIV Golf arrived in the United States on Tuesday morning, as the Saudi-backed golf league held a press conference during the first US event at Pumpkin Ridge, about 20 miles west of downtown Portland. The game starts on Thursday.
The organization’s three newest golfers — all of them recent defectors from the PGA Tour — talked about their decision to join LIV, the unconventional and controversial tour that will play four events across the US in the coming months.
And while Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Wolff, and Abe Ancer were asked questions about the controversy surrounding LIV, no one wanted to talk about it.
“We are golfers, we provide entertainment worldwide and will continue to do so,” DeChambeau said, adding later that he thinks it’s “important to move on with that part of the conversation.”
Saudi Arabia has been accused of large-scale human rights violations, including politically motivated killings, torture, enforced disappearances and inhumane treatment of detainees. And members of the royal family and the Saudi government were charged with 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 by, hopefully the people will see the good that they (the Saudis) are doing. And what they’re trying to achieve, instead of looking back at the bad that happened before.”
Each of them recognized that money was definitely a factor in their movements; DeChambeau called it “a personal business decision.” Wolff said LIV’s team component particularly appealed to him.
“In college, I felt like I was really thriving,” said 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 that people are counting on you, it’s different. The best comes out when you’re on a team. That dynamic really suited me.”
All three dubbed the LIV schedule, which allows players to take more and longer breaks than the PGA schedule, theoretically giving players more time to rest and a better chance of achieving the coveted work-life balance.
“For the last two to three years I’ve given my all to golf, I haven’t really had a life outside of golf,” Ancer said. “I missed spending time with my family and friends and I wasn’t so happy.”
As for concerns about potential declining rankings and how that could affect their eligibility for majors, Ancer acknowledged that this could be an issue.
“Of course it’s important,” Ancer said. “I definitely want to play in the majors, and we already have a pretty strong field here and a pretty strong case. It would be a little crazy not to get points (from LIV events). have some points in the future. Hopefully it will be resolved.”
And what if they can’t 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 Is Doing Well With LIV Golf Tour