(Reuters) – Former U.S. President Donald Trump and son Eric will play a LIV Golf pro-am event with major championship winners Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau at his Bedminster, New Jersey, course on Thursday, a source with the Saudi Arabia-funded series said.
The pro-am at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster will be held the day before the third event of the LIV Golf Invitational Series — which is already disrupting the dynamics of men’s professional golf — takes place on the same course.
Critics say LIV Golf, which is bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, amounts to blatant ‘sportswashing’ by a nation trying to improve its reputation in light of its history of human rights abuses.
LIV Golf CEO and former world number one Greg Norman has said the new series offers players “free agency” and fans an exciting new way of watching golf.
The LIV Golf circuit has lured some of the game’s biggest names away from the PGA Tour with the promise of guaranteed, big-money paydays and a reduced schedule.
The U.S.-based PGA Tour has suspended members who opted to join the breakaway circuit and said anyone else who makes the jump will face the same fate.
Just last week Trump urged players to “take the money” and join LIV Golf, suggesting that those who remain loyal to the PGA Tour will ultimately pay a bigger price for staying put.
“All of those golfers that remain ‘loyal’ to the very disloyal PGA, in all of its different forms, will pay a big price when the inevitable MERGER with LIV comes, and you get nothing but a big ‘thank you’ from PGA officials who are making Millions of Dollars a year,” Trump wrote on the social medial platform Truth Social.
“If you don’t take the money now, you will get nothing after the merger takes place, and only say how smart the original signees were.”
Former world number one Johnson, who counts the 2020 Masters among his two major wins, and 2020 U.S. Open winner DeChambeau are among those competing this week where the individual winner gets $4 million from a $25 million purse.
This year’s PGA Championship was supposed to be held at Bedminster but was relocated after Trump exhorted thousands of his supporters to march on the Capitol as Congress met to certify his presidential election defeat by Joe Biden.
The final event of LIV Golf’s inaugural season, where there will be $50 million in total prize money, will be held at Trump’s Doral course in Florida from Oct. 27-30.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)