Paul Casey Joins LIV Golf; Former PGA Tour Golfer Was Also UNICEF Ambassador

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJuly 3, 2022

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MARCH 14: Paul Casey of England plays a shot on the 14th hole during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship on March 14, 2022 at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fl. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Professional golfer Paul Casey, a 21-time winner who also sports 12 top-10 major finishes, announced that he will be joining the LIV Golf Invitational Series on Saturday.

LIV Golf @LIVGolfInv

"You'll see me in Bedminster."<br><br>Bring. It. On. ๐Ÿ™Œ<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LIVGolf?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LIVGolf</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/Paul_Casey?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Paul_Casey</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CRUSHERSGC?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CRUSHERSGC</a> <a href="https://t.co/Q9mO0pNvMT">pic.twitter.com/Q9mO0pNvMT</a>

LIV Golf @LIVGolfInv

Welcome <a href="https://twitter.com/Paul_Casey?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Paul_Casey</a> ๐Ÿ’ช<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LIVGolf?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LIVGolf</a> <a href="https://t.co/B9RM74OS17">pic.twitter.com/B9RM74OS17</a>

Casey spoke with LIV Golf broadcaster Arlo White during the live streaming of the league's event in Portland on Saturday. White did not ask why Casey made the move, but the golfer did say that he welcomed the "team" aspect of LIV Golf.

The 44-year-old also told White that he plans to play in LIV's next event, which will take place at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey from July 29-31.

Casey is a former UNICEF ambassador who once decided against playing at Saudi International in 2019. LIV Golf is backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.

"As I continue to face questions about my participation, I feel it is important to clarify that I will not be playing in next week's Saudi International event," Casey wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post (h/t Kyle Porter of CBS Sports).

"Plus contrary to reports I had also never signed a contract to play. I hope this addresses any confusion. Thank you."

He also added these remarks, per Tim Schmitt of Golfweek: "There are a lot of places in the world that I have played and continue to go, which you could question...some human rights violations that governments have committed," Casey said last year. "I thought Iโ€™d sit this one out."

However, Casey changed course and played in the 2021 Saudi International.

"This is not a decision Iโ€™ve taken lightly. I wasnโ€™t comfortable going in the past, but I have always been open-minded and willing to learn. I believe sport has the power to affect change. Iโ€™ve listened to the Saudiโ€™s commitment to this and their vision for the future.

"They have successfully hosted two professional ladies tournaments which shows that Golf Saudi have big plans not only for professional golf, but more so for grassroots and the next generation."

He added: "It is always better to include rather than exclude when eliciting change, thus I hope my participation will make a difference and I am looking forward to seeing these changes in person."

Amnesty International summarized human rights abuses and violations that have been prevalent in Saudi Arabia:

"The crackdown continued on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. The Specialized Criminal Court handed down heavy prison terms to individuals for their human rights work and expression of dissenting views. Among those arbitrarily detained, prosecuted or sentenced were human rights defenders, government critics and other political activists. Women human rights defenders were subjected to judicially imposed travel bans following conditional release from prison.

"Courts resorted extensively to the death penalty and people were executed for a wide range of crimes. Migrant workers continued to be vulnerable to abuse and exploitation under the countryโ€™s sponsorship system, and tens of thousands were arbitrarily detained and subsequently deported. Prison authorities violated the right to health of human rights defenders and others imprisoned after grossly unfair trials."

Peter Kostis, who is Casey's coach, had a discussion with Golfweek/USA Today columnist Eamon Lynch on his client's decision.

Eamon Lynch @eamonlynch

I assume you talked about selective outrage to your client Paul Casey, who sat out the first Saudi event on moral grounds before changing his mind and going there? Or do you just save those comments for Twitter posturing? <a href="https://t.co/SLpMKNXy4f">https://t.co/SLpMKNXy4f</a>

Eamon Lynch @eamonlynch

So did Paul decline appearance fees from the Saudis since he was there for the purposes of humanitarian engagement?

Casey is now the ninth player in the Official World Golf Ranking's top 50 to join LIV Golf alongside Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Kevin Na, Louis Oosthuizen, Brooks Koepka, Abraham Ancer and Patrick Reed. He will play for DeChambeau's team, the Crushers.