Like everything Trump touches, LIV Golf became about him

As proof, Gilbert, who didn’t play that weekend, wore a “Let’s Go Brandon” T-shirt near the first hole.

“Honestly, for me, the PGA Tour made Trump dirty every time they took the tour away from here,” Jordan said, referring to the tour’s decision to move the event from Trump’s course to Doral years ago.

Ellie Gilbert did not wear clothes that make fun of the current occupant of the White House. Instead, she wore a LIV Golf T-shirt. “Ninety-nine percent of the community here” were Donald Trump supporters, she said, saying she couldn’t understand why the PGA would take such a step. – I just do not understand.

Like so many other things a former president touches, professional golf quickly breaks down a fault line depending on whether someone supports Trump or not. LIV Golf, the Saudi-funded tour that rocked the golfing world and Washington DC, is becoming a litmus test.

The Doral Resort, which Trump bought in 2012, hosted the PGA event for more than 50 years until the organization announced in 2016 that it was moving the event to Mexico due to trouble finding sponsors. LIV and its mind blowing prizes filled the holes.

As part of the new tour, several different events took place on fields not owned by Trump. But the most notable ones were at his properties in Bedminster, New Jersey, and Doral, the site of this season’s finale.

Beyond that, LIV’s rebranding of golf bears some resemblance to how Trump has framed his own national policy rewrite: a self-proclaimed outsider who renames the traditional approach into something more brash, tacky, and anti-establishment.

During the weekend, skydivers with red, white and blue parachutes descended along the track. Tour staff handed out free T-shirts to the audience, and Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack” blared from the speakers. Rapper Nelly performed “Ride Wit Me” in front of a noisy crowd. A man in shiny silver pants was juggling clubs on a unicycle. At the station on the territory it was possible to make free mullet haircuts.

Trump’s presence, who often advertised America first, was ubiquitous throughout the Saudi-funded tournament. Some participants said they partly came to support the former president.

“I was in Washington on January 6th!” shouted a young man outside the bar. Spectators donned Make America Great Again caps or could buy $36 MAGA caps from the golf store.

With massive prize money and relentless efforts to attract top talent, LIV’s goal has been to challenge what it sees as the PGA’s monopoly. This is done through business and cultural means, positioning itself as the opposite of the hard and stuffy version of the sport that has long been played by wealthy older men.

In fulfilling its mission, the tour took steps to deal with the political fallout. He enlisted the support of influential political and public figures who will guide his communications. These include Edelman’s subsidiary, Arlington-based management consulting firm McKenna & Associates, and lobbying firm Hobart Hallaway & Quayle Ventures, whose partners include former Rep. Benjamin Quayle (R-Arizona).

One of the tacit goals of this outreach event is to try to defend the tour from criticism that it is a means for the Saudi Arabian government to improve its image in America.

LIV denied POLITICO’s request for media credentials, effectively blocking a reporter from watching Trump’s game and attending official press conferences on the grounds that it was a sporting event hosted by the former president.

“LIV Golf is a professional sports league and our event certification policy naturally prioritizes golf, sports and local media,” the tour said in a statement when asked for a comment explaining its reasoning. “We regularly give out free passes to other media outlets, even those who don’t want to cover golf.”

But despite these efforts, it was difficult in Doral to maintain a real distance between golf and the political climate. Trump, for example, told reporters on Thursday at the professional round of LIV that the PGA erred in its dealings with the Saudis by calling those behind the LIV “very good people with unlimited money”.

Earlier in the day, nearby 9/11 Justice, an organization founded by the families of 9/11 victims, called on LIV Golf and those associated with the tour to register as agents of Saudi Arabia under the Foreign Influence Act, known as ” Registration of foreign agents. Act. In a letter Sept. Bob Menendez (DN.J.), Brett Eagleson, president of 9/11 Justice, also called for congressional hearings on Saudi Arabia’s efforts to influence states.

For months, the group protested the golf tour, pointing out links between the Saudi kingdom and the 2001 attacks. In a national ad for the Doral Championship, Justice on 9/11 accused the Saudi government of “using oil profits to fund exhibition golf, hoping to distract you from its policies of oppressing women, killing journalists, and supporting the 9/11 terrorists.” At a press conference on Thursday, Dennis McGinley, who lost his brother in the attacks, called the LIV Golf the “Golf of Death.”

Political tensions were evident elsewhere as well. At the crossroads with Trump National Doral, Pat McCabe and his wife Sandra Ferretti held a sign that read: “Trump’s LIES + Golfers’ GREED let the Saudi Arabian government. ‘Sportswash’ CRIMES”. The couple, who set off from Coconut Creek, Florida, originally intended to protest closer to the track, but were asked to move. As they talked, a man wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat crouched next to the couple to take a photo. As they passed, they were booed by another man. The couple said they also got their fair share of “F you” and “Trump win”.

“Usually I hear from them: “What about the fact that Biden kills babies? What about Biden and inflation? What about… high gas prices?” McCabe said during a protest on Sunday, explaining that passers-by ignored accusations of “stimulus” to go straight to the next: “You must be a Biden guy if you here speaking out against Trump and LIV.”

When Joe Ontano, 69, got off his Uber ride to attend a golf event on Friday, he said a protester called him an idiot for the organizers’ connection to the Saudis.

“We have to move on,” Ontano said, noting that his son joined the army shortly after the 9/11 attacks. “We have to have some determination and say, ‘OK, it’s over with. Okay, I know you weren’t the guy who pulled the trigger. Maybe you helped. Let’s move on.'”

Inside, everything was less tense. Some participants took a selfie with Eric Trump. Among them was a man who identified himself as Skylar, who came to play golf and support his “buddy, Mr. Trump himself.” He did not appear to be bothered by the Saudi money funding the tournament and referred to the kingdom as “normal people”.

“Let’s not even start with Biden, because I work for hours on this man,” he said, holding a cigarette and LIV marijuana in his hand.

Bopeep Harrison, 24, who described himself as “not a voter,” just bought a cap with the number 45 on it. Harrison added that part of the attraction of the event was the networking opportunities. He said he was in contact with Norman, who he said was entertaining the Saudi prince at one of the clubs at the event.

On Friday, Raleigh Perez, a golf fan from the Miami area, said that, unlike many other participants in the event, he is indifferent to having it held at Trump Course. He did not give much thought to the connection to the Saudis, and later said that others were baffled as to why a political reporter could even be there.

The next day, Pérez stopped POLITICO, saying he was reflecting on the LIV controversy. He wasn’t sure if the LIV could bust the PGA. But he thought it was wise for them to form an alliance with Trump.

“I mean, let’s face it, if you’re connected to a president and one day he’s going to be a real president – well, you have a direct connection,” Perez said.

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