9/11 Survivors, Families Thank PGA Tour Golfers for Rejecting LIV in Open Letter

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJune 22, 2022

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 29: PGA TOUR logo is seen during the second round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines South on January 29, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)
Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

Survivors of family members injured or killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks penned an open letter to PGA Tour members applauding them for resisting overtures from the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

ESPN's Mark Schlabach shared a portion of the letter:

"To those many of you who chose to remain loyal to the PGA Tour — and did not defect to the Saudi Arabia-bankrolled LIV Golf Series — we thank you and the sponsors who support you. Thank you for standing up for decency. Thank you for standing up for the 9/11 Families. Thank you for resisting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's efforts to cleanse its reputation by buying off professional athletes. [...]

"To those of you who have chosen what is right over blood money from a corrupt, destructive sports entity and its Saudi backers, please continue to stand strong. You inspire hope and conviction that our long journey to accountability and justice is in reach. We deeply value your integrity and your willingness to stand up for principle."

LIV Golf is backed by the Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, which has led to significant scrutiny of the venture.

Human rights have been a longstanding concern in Saudi Arabia. In February 2021, U.S. intelligence officials said they concluded Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian Washington Post journalist who was critical of the regime.

President Joe Biden also authorized the declassification last September of an FBI report outlining the connection of Saudi nationals to the 9/11 attacks. Osama bin Laden, who orchestrated the attacks, and 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi Arabian.

Critics of LIV Golf contend it's a means for the Saudi regime to improve its reputation and how it's perceived around the world.

Terry Strada, the national chairperson of 9/11 Families United, wrote a letter to LIV-affiliated golfers saying they were "complicit with their whitewash, and help give them the reputational cover they so desperately crave."

Leading up to the U.S. Open, Phil Mickelson addressed the topic and told reporters he has "deep, deep empathy" for anybody who lost loved ones on 9/11.

CBS News @CBSNews

Phil Mickelson responded to criticism from families of 9/11 victims over playing in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series on Monday, saying he has "deep empathy" for them. <a href="https://t.co/gOw4C2VAyc">https://t.co/gOw4C2VAyc</a> <a href="https://t.co/nsHO6pYwfY">pic.twitter.com/nsHO6pYwfY</a>

In response to LIV Golf, the PGA Tour suspended Mickelson and 16 others who competed in LIV's inaugural event. The tactic didn't dissuade others from joining the breakaway league, though.

Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Abraham Ancer have all officially signed, and Brooks Koepka is reportedly on the way as well.

LIV will tee off its second event on June 30 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Portland, Oregon.