NEW JERSEY - Pro golfers are speaking out about their decision to play in a controversial Saudi Arabian-backed golf tour called LIV Golf that is holding a tournament in New Jersey this weekend.
This, as Former President Trump was in the city Wednesday night celebrating with big-name celebrities at Gotham Hall ahead of the event he is hosting at his golf course in Bedminster.
Trump and the golfers participating are facing a lot of scrutiny for taking part in the new golf series.
Englishman Paul Casey, Americans Jason Kokrak, and Charles Howell III, are all making their live golf tour debuts this weekend. They addressed the media Wednesday.
"The focus always seems to be money, let's be honest, but for my decision and I can't speak to the other guys, there's a lot more to this," said Paul Casey.
"No, money was not a factor," said Charles Howell III.
"We did it for our own reasons," said Jason Kokrak.
The tour, funded by Saudi Arabia, is in its inaugural season and has lured some of the best golfers in the world with hundreds of millions of dollars in signing bonuses and a $20 million purse for every tournament.
Meanwhile, the group 911 Justice is running ads criticizing the golfers and Trump for hosting it at his club, just 50 miles from Ground Zero. That’s where 15 Saudi terrorists crashed two planes into the World Trade Center. It’s an attack that FBI documents suggest was Saudi Arabia-sponsored.
Critics say the tour is an example of Saudi Arabia's so-called sports washing, paying exorbitant sums to associate the kingdom with sporting events and athletes to obscure Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.
"I can honestly look you in the eye and say I see a positive trajectory in the kingdom," said Casey.
"I believe sports can be a force for good and change," said Howell III.
The tournament starts Friday. Trump played in a pro-am event at the tournament on Thursday.