Apr 11, 2023

What Results From The Masters Mean for the Rivalry Between Liv Golf and the PGA Transcript

What Results From The Masters Mean for the Rivalry Between Liv Golf and the PGA Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsJon RahmWhat Results From The Masters Mean for the Rivalry Between Liv Golf and the PGA Transcript

In securing his second major championship, Jon Rahm became the first European ever to win both the Masters and the U.S. Open. Read the transcript here.

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Amna Nawaz (00:00):

A history making win for 28 year old Spanish golfer, Jon Rahm, at the Masters tournament yesterday. In securing his second major career championship, Rahm became the first European ever to win both the Masters and the US open. Here he is on the moment he knew he’d won.

Jon Rahm (00:18):

When I hit that third shot on the green, and I could tell it was close by the crowd reaction. Just the wave of emotion of so many things just overtook me. Never thought I was going to cry if I win in a golf tournament, but I got very close on that 18th hole.

Amna Nawaz (00:36):

But the tournament was not without controversy, with several players from the Saudi funded LIV golf tour competing and performing well. For more on this, I’m joined by Christine Brennan. She’s a sports writer and columnist for USA Today. Christine, welcome back. Always good to see you. Before we get into the politics and the controversy of all this, let’s give Rahm his moment. Just tell us about him and why his win is so significant.

Christine Brennan (01:01):

Amna, he is one of the great young players on the PGA Tour and throughout the world of golf, and a very popular player, the latest in a long line of great Spanish male players, Seve Ballesteros, Jose [inaudible 00:01:15], Sergio Garcia, and now Jon Rahm. He respects that tradition. He actually won yesterday on Sunday on Seve Ballesteros’ 66th birthday. He noted that. I mean, who knows that? What 20 something is talking about the birthday of a man who’s now passed away. But that’s the history and the tradition that matters to Jon Rahm. He’s also just one of the great players and is now number one in the world.

Amna Nawaz (01:41):

Well, as you well know, among the top six finishers at the Masters, there were three golfers who play on that Saudi funded LIV golf tour, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Kepka, and Patrick Reed. You wrote that the Masters must be saying to Rahm, thank you for saving us from ourselves. What did you mean by that?

Christine Brennan (02:01):

The LIV golf tour has been very, very controversial and it is backed by Mohamed bin Salman, and he is a private investment fund, and of course he is the man who has, by all accounts, the CIA and others is responsible for the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. And of course, the Saudis and their connection to 9/11 and the Saudi human rights record, which is abysmal, especially regarding women and LGBTQ rights. So that’s what has happened here. Now, I know people have said to me many times, I’ve been critical, of course, of the golfers who’ve left for the LIV tour on that. They’ve said, well, you pump gas, you put gas in your car. There are other sports events in Saudi Arabia. The difference for me is very simple. These men, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Kepka, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, quite a few others, Dustin Johnson, they’re the big names.

They had jobs. They had jobs on the PGA Tour and they left their jobs. And by the way, very, very good paying jobs, left their jobs to go into business with bin Salman and with the Saudis and all of the terrible things that of course are alleged or are known about them. And this is a classic case in my humble opinion of sports washing, i.e. the Saudis are using these golfers, and the golfers know they’re being used to sports wash, to whitewash that record and try to make the Saudis look good. Even Phil Mickelson said that in comments. He knows they killed Khashoggi. He knows about the terrible record with the LGBTQ people, and yet Mickelson signed up because the money is so massive. They’re making hundreds of millions of dollars. And I think it’s obviously something very worthy of conversation because it is such a remarkable difference from, say, a tennis player playing in Saudi Arabia for one week or an Olympics being in Beijing. Very problematic, but not going into business with those people as these golfers have.

Amna Nawaz (04:05):

Christine, Phil Mickelson was asked about that. Asked about representing LIV golf at the Masters. Here’s a part of what he had to say in response.

Phil Mickelson (04:14):

I thought it was exciting that this tournament rose above it all to have the best players in the world here and lost all the pettiness. I thought that was great. There’s always going to be, and should always be a place for historical events like this, but it’s okay to have a little bit of different and variety in the game of golf.

Amna Nawaz (04:35):

Christine Mickelson is 52. He surged in the final round to do much better than many people thought he would. Do you think this earned him some redemption with the fans who were angry at him and others for leaving for the LIV golf tour?

Christine Brennan (04:49):

That’s possible. When he talks about pettiness though, he has been the one who’s been driving the pettiness. I mean, he has been one of the chief organizers and the one who’s been so critical of the PGA Tour. So I like Phil. I’ve enjoyed covering him over the years. Obviously one of the greatest players ever, but he has certainly been a participant in all of the strife and the anger and the ranker between the LIV golfers and their former colleagues at the PGA Tour and their legal battles as well. So yeah, he had a great day Sunday, and that’s for sure, and it was remarkable for a 52 year old, almost 53, to be shooting a 65 and just having the time of his life out there. So yes, that was a great moment for Phil on the golf course. I think his record remains in terms of his decision making, and that’s something obviously for the sports history books.

Amna Nawaz (05:40):

And something of course we will continue to cover as I know you will as well. Christine Brennan, sports columnist for USA Today. Christine, thank you.

Christine Brennan (05:48):

Amna, thank you very much.

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