9/11 families slam Masters for inviting Saudi-backed LIV golfers to Augusta this spring

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A 9/11 survivors’ group criticized Augusta National Golf Club’s decision Tuesday to allow LIV Golf players to participate in the Masters next year. 

9/11 Families United, a group that supports the thousands of families impacted by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, called on the host of the world’s most popular golf tournament to reconsider its position to allow LIV golfers to play. LIV Golf, a breakaway tour started earlier this year, is funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi citizens. 

“The only reason the Saudis launched LIV was to try to make the world forget who they are and what they did, including their role in 9/11,” 9/11 Families United said in a press release. “Anyone who truly vowed to ‘never forget’ should be appalled by the decision by these golfers to put money ahead of their own country. 

“On behalf of 9/11 Families United, we are calling on Augusta National to reconsider their open-door policy to the LIV golfers. If they are welcomed with open arms, we will be at their front door to protest in April.”

More than a dozen former PGA Tour pros jumped ship to play for the Greg Norman-led LIV tour with big paydays as incentive, including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau. The new league caused a ripple in the golf world, with questions as to whether those players would be banned from the sport’s four majors. 

But Augusta National Golf Club chairman Fred Ridley said in a statement Tuesday that all eligible golfers, regardless of which tour they play for, will be allowed to participate in the 2023 Masters.

“Regrettably, recent actions have divided men’s professional golf by diminishing the virtues of the game and the meaningful legacies of those who built it,” Augusta National Golf Club chairman Fred Ridley said in a statement. “Although we are disappointed in these developments, our focus is to honor the tradition of bringing together a preeminent field of golfers this coming April. Therefore, as invitations are sent this week, we will invite those eligible under our current criteria to compete in the 2023 Masters Tournament.”

9/11 Families United protested a LIV Golf event in the U.S. in July at former President Donald Trump’s Bedminster course in New Jersey, and the group’s national chair told USA Today that it hasn’t ruled out protesting the Masters in April. 

In June, Strada penned a letter to a few of the golfers who joined LIV to express the group’s disappointment with their decision to take the large paydays to play on the Saudi-funded tour. 

“The Saudis do not care about the deep-rooted sportsmanship of golf or its origins as a gentleman’s game built upon core values of mutual respect and personal integrity,” Strada wrote. “They care about using professional golf to whitewash their reputation, and they are paying you to help them do it.”

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