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Donald Trump hits the links at his golf club for pro-am with celebs Caitlyn Jenner, Charles Barkley

The most controversial pro-am event in golf was held on Thursday at Donald Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, when celebrities such as Charles Barkley and Caitlyn Jenner joined pros Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau for 18 holes on the Saudi Arabian run. supported LIV Golf series .

Trump himself kicked off the competition ahead of this weekend’s LIV Invitational, which is open to the public. Thursday’s pro-am, on the other hand, was closed to the public, leading to an eerily quiet day on the track.

This year’s PGA Championship was supposed to be held in Bedminster but was moved after Trump urged thousands of his supporters to march to the Capitol as Congress gathered to confirm his defeat in the presidential election by Joe Biden.

Trump was asked on Thursday whether he was disappointed to host an LIV event, rather than one sanctioned by the USGA or PGA Tour.

“No, no regrets,” Trump said. ‘That’s their problem. This course blows every other course away.’

He also declined to say how much money he would make this weekend from the 54-hole tournament.

“I don’t do it for that,” he said. “They’ve been very generous, but that’s not what I’m doing it for. I do it because I love to play golf.’

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, left, a governor of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, which finances the LIV Golf series, former President Donald Trump, center, and his son Eric Trump, watch the match in the pro-am round of the Bedminster Invitational LIV Golf Tournament in Bedminster

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, left, a governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which finances the LIV Golf series, former President Donald Trump, center, and his son Eric Trump, watch the match in the pro-am round of the Bedminster Invitational LIV Golf Tournament in Bedminster

Charles Barkley plays a shot on the fourth hole during the pro-am ahead of the LIV Golf Invitational - Bedminster at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster on Thursday.  Barkley is considering a position on the LIV Tour

Charles Barkley plays a shot on the fourth hole during the pro-am ahead of the LIV Golf Invitational – Bedminster at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster on Thursday. Barkley is considering a position on the LIV Tour

LSU gymnast Hailey Ostrom (left) and Caitlyn Jenner bump into each other on the first hole during the pro-am ahead of the LIV Golf Invitational - Bedminster at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster

LSU gymnast Hailey Ostrom (left) and Caitlyn Jenner bump into each other on the first hole during the pro-am ahead of the LIV Golf Invitational – Bedminster at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster

Former US President Donald Trump watches his shot from the first tee during the pro-am ahead of the LIV Golf Invitational - Bedminster at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster on Thursday

Former US President Donald Trump watches his shot from the first tee during the pro-am ahead of the LIV Golf Invitational – Bedminster at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster on Thursday

On Thursday, the former president played golf with his son Eric, two weeks after the death of his mother, Trump’s ex-wife, Ivana.

The pair turned off in front of a pair of reporters, daughter Ivanka, her husband Jared Kushner, as well as former PGA stars Johnson and DeChaumbeau, all of whom clapped when Trump’s first drive landed in the middle of the fairway.

“Glad that’s over,” Trump joked, according to reports.

In the end, he dropped a putt 15 feet short on the first hole to make a bogey.

Trump, 76, drove his own cart, which was decorated with the presidential seal and an American flag.

On the second hole, Trump passed a pass on the back tees in favor of something closer to the hole.

Darryl Strawberry (left) and Smash GC team captain Brooks Koepka pose during the welcome party for the LIV Golf Invitational - Bedminster at Gotham Hall on Wednesday

Darryl Strawberry (left) and Smash GC team captain Brooks Koepka pose during the welcome party for the LIV Golf Invitational – Bedminster at Gotham Hall on Wednesday

“I’m going to find a more comfortable T-shirt,” he said, as quoted by the Washington Post.

Trump’s individual score on Thursday couldn’t really be captured, as the group occasionally played best ball and he picked up his ball on multiple holes.

Other celebrities involved in Thursday’s festivities included English golfers Paul Casey and Ian Poulter, Spaniard Sergio Garcia, South African Louis Oosthuizen, LSU gymnast and Instagram celebrity Hailey Ostrom, as well as sports radio host Clay Travis, an avid Trump supporter. Former New York Mets star Daryl Strawberry also appeared at a related event at Trump’s golf club in New Jersey on Wednesday.

The former president has embraced the controversial tour that has lured golfers like Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka away from the PGA with huge, guaranteed contracts paid for by Saudi Arabia’s state wealth fund.

Critics say LIV Golf amounts to blatant “sportswashing” by a nation seeking to improve its reputation in the face of its history of human rights abuses. LIV Golf CEO and former world number one Greg Norman has said the new series offers free agency players and fans an exciting new way to watch golf.

The US-based PGA Tour has suspended members who chose to participate in the breakaway circuit, saying anyone who makes the jump will suffer the same fate.

In response, Trump last week urged players to “take the money” and join LIV Golf, suggesting that those who remain loyal to the PGA Tour will eventually pay a higher price to stay put.

All those golfers who remain ‘loyal’ to the deeply disloyal PGA, in all its various forms, will pay a big price when the inevitable MERGER with LIV comes along, and you’ll get nothing but a big ‘thank you’ from PGA officials who millions of dollars a year,” Trump wrote on the social media platform Truth Social.

“If you don’t take the money now, you won’t get anything after the merger and you can only say how smart the original signatories were.”

Former world number one Johnson, who counts the 2020 Masters among his two major wins, and 2020 US Open winner DeChambeau, are among the entrants this week where the individual winner will receive $4 million from a $4 million grant. 25 million.

The final event of LIV Golf’s inaugural season, which will see a total of $50 million in prize money, will be held October 27-30 at Trump’s Doral Course in Florida.

Barkley has admitted that he is in public talks about taking a role on the tour, despite being a former NBA star known for having an atrocious slice on the left.

He currently holds a $30 million three-year contract with TNT, where he has worked on multiple events, including the Emmy-winning “Inside the NBA” studio show alongside Ernie Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal.

Called an “infamous hack” by hoops peer and Hornets owner Michael Jordan, Barkley has a large following and rose to fame as a do-it-all analyst at Turner Sports.

The LIV Golf Series kicked off in June, paying huge, guaranteed contracts to golfers to join the new tour, leaving existing PGA Tour membership behind. Some players have pointed to the lighter schedule of events as a tipping point in their decision.

Announcer David Feherty has officially joined NBC Sports’ LIV, despite the tour not yet having a media rights deal.

Prominent players have criticized the Saudi-funded circuit as a money-maker, including Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.

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