When the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series hits Trump National Golf Club Bedminster (NJ) next week, it will do so amid outrage coming just a few miles down the road.
Terry Strada, the national chair of 911familiesunited.org, a prominent coalition of families and survivors of the September 11 terrorist attacks, will hold a press conference at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the nearby Clarence Dillon Library to protest the event . She told The Post exclusively. The tournament takes place less than 50 miles from the World Trade Center, where her husband Tom, a bondbroker for Cantor Fitzgerald, was killed when a plane struck the North Tower in the 2001 attack.
“We would like to make the public aware that LIV is nothing more than a PR stunt for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud to try to erase his country’s gruesome history with the 9/11 community. ‘ she told the Post. “It’s sportswear. He is trying to shirk the responsibility he has to every 9/11 family member and survivor.”
Backed by the Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, which is managed by MBS, LIV Golf has been heavily criticized for being used by the kingdom to distract from the country’s human rights record, believed to be one of the worst in the world. according to Amnesty International.
The circuit, which has held two of its eight tournaments scheduled for this year, has also torn the professional golf landscape in two.
Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter are among the most prominent players to join LIV Golf from the PGA Tour. As a result, they were suspended from the tour indefinitely. More players are also expected to join the rival faction, possibly as early as this week.
“I get a sinking feeling in my stomach most days just thinking about it [LIV Golf] and [Donald] Trump is having one of these tournaments right in my backyard,” said Strada, who used to live in Basking Ridge. “There is a lot of pain, anger and disappointment.
“After 9/11 there was this great unity in our country and in Bedminster and the surrounding towns. All this unity, we felt. All the responsibility we deserve is threatened by misguided golfers when working with LIV Golf.”
Meanwhile, Trump, who is expected to be available for the tournament, fueled the rift on his social media app Truth Social on Monday by telling players to take the guaranteed money LIV Golf is offering and himself Hooking up Greg Norman -led outfit.
“All of these golfers who remain ‘loyal’ to the very disloyal PGA in all its various forms will pay a heavy price when the inevitable merger with LIV comes and you will receive nothing but a big ‘thank you’ from the PGA officials who Make millions of dollars a year,” Trump wrote. “If you don’t take the money now, you won’t get anything after the merger, just saying how smart the original signers were.”
Strada, whose late husband was a golf pro at Meadow Brook Country Club before starting his career in finance, reacted differently last month when she wrote a scathing letter to representatives for Mickelson and others, accusing the American players of sports laundering and treason against the United States through their association with LIV.
When asked about the letter at the US Open, Mickelson said in part that he had “deepest sympathy and empathy” for the Stradas and other 9/11 families. Strada was annoyed by the comments, saying they were “disappointing, hollow and offensive,” and said she was surprised by the irritation with which Mickelson responded to a barrage of questions from reporters.
Strada, who has also criticized President Joe Biden’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia, said she is still a fan of golf but no longer one of Mickelson and the others who jumped to LIV.
“I’m not going to stop loving golf,” she said. “But if you pay everyone up front, where’s the incentive to practice? From the format [54 holes, no cut], it is obvious that it will not be a legitimate competition. A legitimate league that competes with the PGA Tour would benefit the PGA Tour. Honest competition increases people’s platform. But LIV Golf is none of that.”
For them and the other 9/11 survivors, the player involvement in LIV also cuts much deeper.
“They go out there, buy shirts with $100 bills on them, sing ‘We Are The Champions’ on a luxury LIV jet and say the allegations [against Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the attack] is weak,” said Strada. “They insult us all the time.
“Someone asked me the other day if it’s like putting salt in the wound. I said, ‘No, it’s like pouring razor blades into the wound.’ ”