Golf pros prepare for tournaments by getting in a few rounds at the host course, trying to anticipate problems before they occur and figure out ways to escape once they're in trouble. Given the provocative and controversial backstory of the impending PGA Tour-Saudi Public Investment Fund alignment, players probably ought to start doing some prep work for hard-hitting interviews, as well.
Bryson DeChambeau, who departed the PGA Tour for LIV Golf last summer, ran headlong into a speeding train on CNN on Tuesday night. Interviewed by Kaitlan Collins, DeChambeau tried to make sense of the chaos of Tuesday's announcement.
"I think this is the best thing that could ever happen to the game of golf," DeChambeau said. "The fans are going to get what they want, the players are going to experience something a little different, a little new, but I truly believe the game of golf wins." Whether that's true or not, it's indisputable that LIV and the PIF now have juice and power that they didn't have on Monday, and DeChambeau is most definitely a beneficiary of that.
Bryson DeChambeau, an early recruit to the Saudi-backed LIV tour, on the PGA merger shocker and criticism from the families of 9/11 victims: pic.twitter.com/i1R6AWjw1Z
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) June 7, 2023
Where the interview truly took a turn, however, was when Collins asked DeChambeau to speak about the criticism from 9/11 families and Saudi Arabia's human rights record as it relates to the new endeavor.
"They’re accused of financing terrorism," Collins said. "They’re also accused of killing Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi. How do you feel knowing that is where the money is backed by?"
DeChambeau's answer didn't exactly radiate confidence, and his attempt to distance himself from geopolitical issues quickly went sideways.
“I mean look, it’s unfortunate what has happened but that is not something I can necessarily speak on because I’m a golfer," he said. "What I can say is that, what they’re trying to do, what they're trying to work on is be better allies, because we are allies with them. I’m not going to get into the politics of it, I’m not specialized in it. But what I can say is they’re trying to do good for the world and showcase themselves in a light that hasn’t been seen in a while. Nobody is perfect but we’re all trying to improve in life."
LIV Golf players spent much of last summer dealing with similar questions, with no more success than DeChambeau had. Now, PGA Tour players will have to face those same inquiries. They've got time to prepare a better answer ... if they can come up with one.