Families whose loved ones died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks are ringing the PGA for merging with Saudi-backed rival LIV Golf.
Brett Eagleson, who aged 15 lost his father in the September 11, 2001 attack, told DailyMail.com he had 50 messages on his phone from other families asking ‘what happened? happened”.
“I am at a loss for words,” the 9/11 justice president added.
Professional Golfers’ Association commissioner Jay Monahan said less than a year ago that a merger with his organization and LIV was “out of order”. LIV has received widespread criticism for its ties to Saudi Arabia.
But news broke on Tuesday that the PGA had agreed to merge with LIV despite its ties to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which is controlled by the Saudi Crown Prince.
Brett Eagleson, whose father (right) died in the September 11 terrorist attacks, said he had ’50 text messages from [9/11] families ask ‘what happened’ over PGA merger with Saudi-backed LIV Golf
The merger comes less than a year after PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said such an arrangement was not on the cards.
Former President Donald Trump recently faced backlash for hosting a LIV tournament at his golf club in Sterling, Virginia during Memorial Day week.
“The PGA gave in so quickly,” said Eagleson, 37. “It’s shameful that they spent all this time bashing LIV about human rights [violations] and links to 9/11, and then they sign this agreement.
“We thought a traditional American organization would stand up for 9/11 families,” he added.
Eagleson, president of 9/11 Justice, criticized Trump for hosting LIV tournaments and vowed to ‘fight back’ over PGA/LIV merger
When President Joe Biden was asked about the merger, he gave a little sway and said, “I plan to play in the PGA.”
Eagleson vowed to ‘fight back’ and said the move had only ’emboldened’ families seeking justice and trying to shed light on Saudi Arabia’s alleged involvement in the 9/11 terror attacks. .
“We were once again disappointed. This is just another example of families being pushed aside,” he said. “But we will not back down. It emboldened us. We will fight back.
Eagleson was also very critical of Trump when he hosted LIV just outside Washington, DC – next to where a plane crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11 – during the Memorial Day holiday.
Meanwhile, Eagleson and seven other families of 9/11 victims were meeting 2024 candidate and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at a Memorial Day barbecue at the governor’s mansion.
The PGA Tour has merged with LIV Golf, which is funded by Saudi Arabia.
Donald Trump, whose golf courses have hosted several LIV events, trumpeted the news on his social media site Truth Social: GREAT NEWS FROM LIV GOLF. A GREAT BEAUTIFUL AND GLAMOROUS OFFER FOR THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF GOLF. GONGRATES TO ALL!!!’
Former President Donald Trump has faced backlash for hosting multiple LIV tournaments over the years. Pictured: Trump with LIV Commissioner Greg Norman
In a shocking move that was unknown to PGA stars and LIV Commissioner Greg Norman until Tuesday morning, the PGA and European Tours have signed an agreement with the Saudi-backed Tour to combine their businesses into a new company. who has not yet been named. .
The merger ends ongoing litigation between rival gold organizations. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
The move represents a major victory for LIV Golf, which has been shunned by many sporting icons including PGA Tour legends Jack Nicklaus, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, who reportedly turned down a billion dollar contract in 2022.
But LIV Golf has managed to buy some of the best players in the world, spending hundreds of millions on Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson.
The problem now for the PGA Tour is reintegrating the defectors who took the Saudi money with the players who stayed loyal by turning down lucrative LIV contracts.
LIV Golf has come under fire for its links to Saudi Arabia’s controversial Public Investment Fund (PIF), with critics accusing the kingdom of ‘washing the sport’ of its human rights record.
LIV’s defectors, meanwhile, have been pilloried over allegations of greed.
The PGA-LIV merger was a complete surprise, both outside and inside the sport.
Only a year ago at the Canadian Open, Monahan attacked LIV Golf by asking his players, rhetorically, “Have you ever had to apologize for being a PGA Tour member?”
But now Monahan is somehow ignoring that rhetoric by associating himself with Saudi Arabia.
“There has been a lot of tension in our sport over the past two years,” the Tour commissioner told CNBC on Tuesday. “What we’re talking about today is coming together to unify the game of golf, and doing it under one umbrella.
“We recognized that together we can have a much bigger impact on this game than if we worked separately,” he added.
“The game of golf is better for what we did here today.”
Trump’s involvement in the deal is unclear, but he predicted a merger 11 months ago and praised the deal on his social media site on Tuesday.
Even PGA players, who had loyally supported the Tour rather than taking the Saudi’s millions, were taken aback by the news.
“Shocked and confused,” an unidentified golfer told Barstool’s Dan Rapaport.
“Disgusted,” said another. “They didn’t tell us anything.
“Nothing like finding out via Twitter that we are merging with a tour we said we would never do this with,” read a tweet from golfer Mackenzie Hughes.
And when asked if Norman was aware of the deal, PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan told CNBC: “I made the call just before that.” [interview].’
Tuesday’s merger comes a year after LIV Golf’s first event and ends its legal battle with the PGA.
As the PGA was accused of violating antitrust laws by banning LIV players from its tour, golf’s preeminent tour thwarted its Saudi-backed rivals, accusing the team of interfering with its deals.
Players who defected to LIV Golf were banned from PGA events, but continued to play in major tournaments. For example, LIV Golf’s Koepka won the PGA Championship last month.