LIV Golf Wants to Talk About Sports. Donald Trump Still Looms.

“They want to use my properties because they’re the best properties,” Trump said on Thursday, when he spent five hours appearing in a pro-am event with the LIV players Graeme McDowell and Patrick Reed (and staging what amounted to a rolling news conference about politics and an infomercial about his property over 18 holes along the Potomac River).

The Trump portfolio does indeed feature some exceptional courses, including the Washington-area location, which once held a Senior P.G.A. Championship, and LIV executives have said in the past that they were drawn to them because many top-caliber properties in the United States were not willing to host a circuit intended to rival the PGA Tour. But Trump’s persistent, growing place in LIV’s orbit also invites sustained skepticism of the motives and intentions of the league, which some critics see as a glossy way for Saudi Arabia to rehabilitate its image.

The former president is unbothered by the league’s patron, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, and the kingdom’s budding place in professional golf, despite its record of human rights abuses. He is still casting aside objections from family members of Sept. 11 victims, some of whom believe Saudi Arabia played a role in the 2001 attacks, because, as he said Thursday, LIV tournaments are “great economic development.” He is openly admiring the millions and millions of dollars that the Saudis are raining down onto players and, of course, properties like his, even though he asserted Thursday that hosting tournaments amounts to “peanuts for me.” This year, LIV will travel to three of his properties, up from two in its inaugural season.

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