Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée says LIV Golf players should be banned from majors for accepting Saudi-backed deals

Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and many top professional golfers who have joined the new Saudi-backed LIV Golf venture have made it clear that this is business, not politics.

Not everyone sees it that way.

Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of murdered Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, disagrees and called out players participating in LIV Golf at the league’s inaugural event this weekend.

A report US intelligence has claimed Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia was behind an operation to “capture or kill” Khashoggi.

Salman controls the Saudi Public Investment Fund which created LIV Golf, which has secured golfers such as Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and 17 total PGA Tour players. He provided massive contracts and prize packages to attract some of the best names in the PGA.

Cengiz called for all players participating in the league to be banned from major tournaments.

“If they continue and play as if everything is normal, then they should be banned from playing in major tournaments in the world,” he added. Cengiz told USA TODAY Sports. “It will show that there are consequences to supporting murderers, and it will show murderers that they are not escaping justice.”

Cengriz was engaged to Khashoggi at the time of his assassination as he was killed at a Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.

The PGA responded to players jumping ship for LIV Golf by suspending all players shortly before the start of the league’s inaugural event at the Centurion Club in London on Thursday.

While the PGA has made its position clear, other major events have yet to publicly voice their views on the golf adventure movement. The US Open, which begins on Thursday, and the United States Golf Association said all players who qualify for the tournament will be eligible.

The British Open, PGA Championship and Masters have not announced whether players playing LIV Golf are eligible.

Still, the choice is clear for Cengriz.

“If players and organizers say they oppose human rights abuses, they should act accordingly,” Cengiz said. “Otherwise their words are meaningless – only said to try to make themselves look better and not change anything in Saudi Arabia. They should insist on justice for Jamal and the countless targeted and abused people in the Kingdom. And they should not participate in sports paid for by the abusers themselves.

-Aron Yohannes

[email protected]; @aronyohannes

Michael C. Ford