LIV Golf players continue to face questions about the Saudi-backed company

PORTLAND, Ore. — The same can be said for LIV Golf: the new Saudi-backed organization and its players sure know how to grab headlines — and controversy.

The tour, which makes its U.S. debut on Thursday at Pumpkin Ridge outside Portland, has quickly become known for its contentious media exchanges asking about Saudi Arabia’s abysmal rights record. of the man and the players who refuse for the most part to recognize the said balance sheet.

It continued Tuesday afternoon, as Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed and Pat Perez attended the second press conference of the day and were visibly bored with every non-golf related question.

Asked about various local politicians who have expressed opposition to LIV’s presence in Oregon given who is funding the tournament, Perez said, “I understand the topics you are trying to address and these are horrible events. But I’m here to play golf.

Perez didn’t elaborate on what he meant by ‘horrifying events’, though it likely referred to the 2018 death of the Washington Post reporter jamal khashoggi, who was killed inside the Saudi consulatewould be included.

To broader concerns about LIV’s connection to Saudi Arabia, Koepka said people are “allowed to have their opinions, we’ve heard it, everyone has. Our only job is to play golf. We’re trying to grow the game.”

But Koepka and Perez didn’t care whether aligning themselves with Saudi Arabia really alienated fans and potentially hurt the growth of the game?

“We didn’t ask them (the fans),” Perez quipped. ” We do not know. Go ask them.

Koepka argued that more golf on TV and on the internet in general — whether people get it through TikTok, Instagram or Twitter — is ultimately good for the growth of the sport. And clearly, Reed said, the PGA Tour sees LIV as an organization that will do just that.

“Seeing how miraculously the purses have exploded on the PGA Tour, it just goes to show that they obviously believe that not only is it a real threat, but a great tour, if they copy what we’re doing,” said said Reed. “I believe this is a tour that will last forever.”

AFTER:Bryson DeChambeau on Saudis and LIV Golf: ‘People will see the good they are doing’

OPINION:Brooks Koepka and the other LIV fraternity boys are no real threat to the future of the PGA Tour

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On topics related to the actual game of golf, Koepka, Perez and Reed all expressed frustration with the PGA Tour, fed up with what they said was a punishing and unrealistic schedule. They said the PGA Tour had created a division by not listening to players when they complained about a busy schedule that didn’t allow them to rest properly. Koepka said he returned to play three weeks after major knee surgery, despite doctors advising him not to play for six months. What other option did he have?

“If you took a period of time because your body needed it, now you’re behind,” said Reed, who won the 2018 Masters.

Perez, 46, said he “has been on the road longer than (LIV’s newest golfer) Matt Wolff was alive. In the end, I’m tired of being on the road. It’s (LIV) like winning the lottery.

All players who have signed contracts with LIV have been suspended from PGA Tour eventsalthough only a handful, including Reed, actually resigned their membership.

“I’m not quitting,” Perez said. “I don’t think I did anything wrong.”

As for continuing to have access to the majors, no one seems very worried.

“Obviously we don’t really know where they are,” Reed said. “Being a former champion at Augusta and having a green jacket, I think I could play there the rest of my life. Ultimately it will be up to them.

Koepka added: “You are playing well all over the world, everything will be fine. I made my decision, I’m happy with it and whatever happens, I will live with it.

Michael C. Ford