A Saudi golf course opens in the United States amid protests

The first Saudi-funded LIV Golf Series event kicked off Thursday outside Portland, Oregon, amid protests and threats of legal action from players.

Relatives of the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks called a press conference near the site to express their anger at the tournament being held on US soil.

Andre Aiken, who was three years old when his father, Terence, died at the World Trade Center in New York, was a relative who insisted that Saudi Arabia was complicit in the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. This is a responsibility denied by the Riyadh government.

“Because of Saudi Arabia’s actions, there were many defining moments when my father was unable to attend. I will never know the sound of his voice, the feeling of his embrace,” Aiken said.

“For me, 20 years later, to see the same people in charge think they can come along as if nothing had happened, it’s very difficult,” he said.

The series Live Golf, run by former Australian golfer Greg Norman, is funded by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, prompting fierce criticism from human rights groups who see it as an attempt by the kingdom to improve its image through sport.

The Arena offers a record prize of $25 million for each of its events. This week’s championship at Pumpkin Ridge (outside of Portland) is second on the series’ schedule.

PGA Tour personalities such as Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed, winners of the Grand Slam titles, made their debut in the new competition Thursday.

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They, like other big names such as Phil Mickelson or Sergio García, were all banned from the PGA Tours which have strengthened their alliance with the European circuit (DP World Tour) to face the new competition.

At the same time, the struggle between traditional organizations and “dissident” golfers continues.

The DP World Tour has received a letter from more than a dozen players threatening legal action unless penalties are lifted for them to compete in the first-ever LIV golf event, which took place this month in England.

England’s signatories include Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, both members of the DP World Tour, who have each been fined 100,000 pounds ($123,000) and banned from next week’s Scottish Open and two other events.

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