The announcement of the PGA Tour's merger with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf (and DP World Tour) was bound to trigger a full spectrum of emotions across the golf world.
On the happiest side were probably the newly legitimized people behind LIV Golf and their players, who will have their cake and eat it too by playing PGA Tour events again while receiving LIV money. Below them would have been the PGA Tour officials who compromised pretty much every statement they made in the last three years.
On the sadder side, the players who stood up for said tour and were rewarded with nothing, and are now reportedly furious.
And then there is 9/11 Families United, an organization of families of Sept. 11 victims that has campaigned and protested against LIV Golf as an attempt at sportswashing Saudi Arabia's atrocious human rights record and terrorist links.
Hours after the merger was announced, the organization released a statement saying it was "shocked and deeply offended" by the decision, and reserved special scorn for PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, who had invoked the memory of 9/11 while criticizing LIV's supporters, up until the moment he joined their ranks.
The full statement from 9/11 Families United chair Terry Strada, who lost her husband Tom in the attack on the World Trade Center:
“PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan co-opted the 9/11 community last year in the PGA’s unequivocal agreement that the Saudi LIV project was nothing more than sportswashing of Saudi Arabia’s reputation. But now the PGA and Monahan appear to have become just more paid Saudi shills, taking billions of dollars to cleanse the Saudi reputation so that Americans and the world will forget how the Kingdom spent their billions of dollars before 9/11 to fund terrorism, spread their vitriolic hatred of Americans, and finance al Qaeda and the murder of our loved ones. Make no mistake — we will never forget.
“Mr. Monahan talked last summer about knowing people who lost loved ones on 9/11, then wondered aloud on national television whether LIV Golfers ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour. They do now — as does he. PGA Tour leaders should be ashamed of their hypocrisy and greed. Our entire 9/11 community has been betrayed by Commissioner Monahan and the PGA as it appears their concern for our loved ones was merely window-dressing in their quest for money — it was never to honor the great game of golf.”
Tuesday will be remembered as a transformative day for the golf world, but the full effects — as well as the actual set-up of the merged golfing body — remain to be seen.
The 9/11 Families United statement underscores the vitriol against many of the people involved in this deal, which likely won't be the end of Saudi Arabia's attempts to use its oil money to encroach upon American sports.