PGA Tour Accused of Xenophobia in Fight with LIV Golf

Dustin Johnson Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf & CC
Dustin Johnson is congratulated by Majed-Al-Sorour, CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation, as His Excellency Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) - the Sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Jared Kushner look on, during day two of the PIF Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf & CC on Feb 4, 2022 in Al Murooj, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Oisin Keniry via Getty Images)

When PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan intentionally mislabels the LIV Golf Invitational Series, “the Saudi Golf League,” he’s displaying “classic xenophobic tendencies,” Dr. Mohammed Bashir told me last week in a phone call.

Xenophobia is a term that is generally defined as “insiders who fear interlopers from the outside group,” according to a description on the website

Where most forms of discrimination are based on specific characteristics, xenophobia is usually rooted in the perception that members of the outgroup are a threat to the ingroup community. Culturally, it’s almost instinctive to protect the interests of the traditional inside group by trying to eliminate threats from the disrupting group, according to Dr. Bashir.

Monahan, and his media allies, though, are being accused of trying to eliminate the threat of LIV Golf by using xenophobic dog whistles, by specifically branding their rival as the foreign outsider from the Middle East, even going so far as connecting them to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

LIV Golf London Talor Gooch
Talor Gooch talks to the media during a press conference at The Centurion Club on June 7, 2022 in St Albans, England ahead of the LIV Golf Invitational London 2022. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde / LIV Golf via Getty Images)

In the recent lawsuit, it was learned that even in private conversations with players, Tour executives make sure to include “Saudi” when referring to LIV Golf.

For example, in a text message to Talor Gooch, PGA Tour Chief Tournament & Competitions Officer Andy Pazder wrote: “Our position has been that a player may choose to be a member of the Tour or to play in the ‘Saudi/LIV’ events, but he can’t do both. If the player chooses the latter, he should not expect to be welcomed back.”

Bashir said, “These are classic xenophobic tendencies being emitted by the PGA Tour. The ‘Saudi Golf League’ and ‘Saudi/LIV’ are unambiguously being used as a pejoratives by Monahan and Pazder, respectively.

“For instance, if LIV Golf were being funded by a European country like Sweden, would Monahan call it the Sweden Golf League? Would Pazder refer to it as Sweden/LIV? Would the media write it up as the Sweden-funded golf tour?

“Of course not, because ‘Sweden’ produces no negative connotation. In order for the verbal investment to pay off, the threat needs to be otherized.”

Dustin Johnson BMW Championship
Dustin Johnson plays his shot from the 17th tee during the final round of the BMW Championship on the North Course at Olympia Fields CC on Aug 30, 2020 in Olympia Fields, IL. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Asked why they aren’t protecting the intertest of the PGA Tour through traditional free market methods, Bashir cited their monopoly status.

“As a monopoly, the PGA Tour has never had to compete for business,” said Bashir.

“They’ve always controlled the means of production and labor.”

He added, “It’s the height of hypocrisy for the PGA Tour to have title sponsors such as FedEx, AT&T, BMW and Genesis, among others – which make billions from Saudi Arabia, while at the same time smearing Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau for earning “blood money” from the same source.

“It shows you their smear campaign against LIV players has nothing to do with morals or values, and is only about otherizing the competition.”


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