Trump praises LIV Golf, its Saudi backers and its own courses

During his four years in office, former President Donald Trump visited the Trump National Golf Club outside Washington more than 100 times, according to The Guardian., which maintained careful tracking of such flights. Since then, Trump has still been playing a lot of golf — just not at the private course he owns in Loudoun County, about 25 miles from the White House.

“I used to play it a bit when I was in the office. It’s 22 minutes from the White House,” he said. “I haven’t seen him in a while.”

Despite countless legal cases, criminal investigations and a presidential campaign surrounding him, Trump returned to his home course in Northern Virginia on Thursday to play in a pro tournament ahead of the LIV Golf event to be held Friday through Sunday at Trump National. While he had plenty to say about recent political headlines while chatting with reporters among the drivers and players — from firing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ Republican presidential campaign (“disaster”) to the investigation into his handling of classified documents (“con job”) — Trump focused unequivocally. fundamental on golf.He praised the Saudi philanthropists who fund the LIV while taking aim at the PGA Tour, which is battling the controversial league in federal court.

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“I suspect the tour will want to merge very soon, because they can’t go on like this,” Trump predicted.

Meanwhile, the future of LIV Golf, which is six events in its first full season and has struggled to keep the spotlight focused on its actual golf product, is “good,” according to the former president, in part because Saudi benefactors in particular have pockets. deep.

“Unlimited money. I think the tour made a huge mistake by playing games,” he said. “They have unlimited money, they love it, and it was a lot of publicity for Saudi Arabia.”

Trump has closely allied with LIV. Its courses hosted two events last year and will host three this season. Thursday saw the third LIV pro event for Trump, who played alongside Patrick Reid for nine holes and then Graeme McDowell on the defensive nine. Eric Trump and Bob Koepka — father of Brooks Koepka, last weekend’s PGA Championship winner — round out the group.

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Hosting the LIV events is believed to be a lucrative arrangement for Trump, though neither side has disclosed details. Trump has downplayed the impact on his bank account, calling it “a peanut to me,” and said he doesn’t think the Saudis are doing anything untoward by lining the pockets of a former president — and Republican front-runner in the 2024 election.

“They pay the rent. And Trump said they want to use my property because it’s the best real estate. “There is no such property.”

The relationship has angered critics, including some families of 9/11 victims who protested at the LIV events and this month wrote a letter to Trump requesting a meeting be held in his tracks.

“I totally understand them and we love them,” Trump said of the 9/11 families. “But it’s an enormous economic development, and an enormous number of jobs, just for an event like this — it’s a huge event. An enormous number of jobs. But I totally understand them, actually.”

Trump spent much of his tour showing off his courses, particularly the Trump National, a long, wide course that runs along the Potomac River. He described it as the top club in the Washington area, better than the Congress Club it has hosted three times in the United States.

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“This blows Congress away. Congress can’t compete with this,” Trump said.

Bravado aside, the Trump Courses have never hosted a major championship. The Virginia course hosted the 2017 PGA Championship, and the PGA of America was supposed to stage the 2022 PGA Championship at its course in Bedminster, New Jersey, but stripped Trump of the hosting five days after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

“They had to pay me a lot of money,” he said, “you know.” “It was such a stupid thing and I guarantee you that if they had to do it again, they wouldn’t.”

Trump said he hopes, if not confident, that one of his properties will host a major yet.

“They love the courses,” he said of golf’s governing bodies. “But I think they might consider me a bit controversial right now, which is foolish. You can make a lot of money by arguing. They love courses. They really like me, but they don’t want to say it publicly.”

Trump’s play was consistent Thursday at the modified Best Ball scramble event, which is closed to the public. He took selfies with volunteers and was kind to a small group of onlookers inside the clubhouse gates.

This weekend’s event will be LIV’s first since Koepka won his fifth major, further cementing the LIV brand. It also comes as stakeholders in the sport grapple with whether to include golfers on the circuit in the Ryder Cup.

“It hurts the Ryder Cup terribly. You have a lot of players — the greatest players,” Trump said. “And there are some other big signings happening, from what I’ve heard. Contracts are very, very big. Like, really big. Better than the top 10. That’s exactly what I hear.”