As Charl Schwartzel played his way to a $4.75 million payday, Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée called for him and every other player participating in Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf to face consequences.
She wants them banned from major tournaments.
Hatice Cengiz made the statement to USA Today on Saturday.
‘There are consequences for supporting murderers’
“If they still carry on and play as if everything is normal, then they should be banned from playing in the world’s major tournaments,” Cengiz said via email. “This will show that there are consequences for supporting murderers, and it will show the murderers that they are not escaping justice.”
Cengiz was engaged to Khashoggi when he was murdered in 2018. A US intelligence report declassified in 2021 concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman orchestrated his death.
“We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence stated.
Khashoggi was a Washington Post columnist and exiled Saudi journalist who was critical of bin Salman’s regime. He was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018 to retrieve documents to marry Cengiz, who is Turkish.
Per the Turkish government, Saudi officials detained Khashoggi after he entered the consulate, suffocated him, then dismembered his body in order to dissolve his remains. Cengiz waited outside the consulate for hours before alerting Turkish officials.
“No matter how long I waited, the joyful Jamal did not return,” Cengiz wrote in 2018. “All that came was news of his death.”
LIV Golf criticized for ‘sportswashing’ Saudi human rights atrocities
LIV Golf made its debut this weekend in London. The golf league backed by more than $2 billion in Saudi government money and fronted by former PGA Tour pro Greg Norman is facing accusations of “sportswashing” — an effort to dilute the human rights abuses committed by the Saudi regime through sports.
Top PGA players defect to LIV Golf
LIV Golf attracted some of the top names in golf with promises of lucrative guaranteed paydays in addition to substantial purses at its tournaments. Major winners including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau have either joined the league or reportedly committed to play at the objection of the PGA Tour. Mickelson reportedly earned $200 million just for joining the league.
The PGA Tour announced last week that it was suspending the 17 players who participated in London over the weekend. Some players including Johnson and Garcia have formally resigned from the PGA Tour.
Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters winner, won $4 million from the $25 million prize pool for his victory at London’s Centurion Club on Saturday in addition to his $750,000 share for his team’s victory at the event. By comparison, Scottie Scheffler earned $2.7 million from a $15 million purse for winning the Masters in April.
Journalist says he was ‘physically removed’ by LIV Golf security
During the tournament, journalist Alan Shipnuck wrote that he was ‘physically removed’ by LIV Golf security from a Mickelson news conference “on orders from their boss.” Shipnuck reported in February that Mickelson called the Saudi regime “scary motherf***ers” with “a horrible record on human rights.”
The PGA Tour ban doesn’t prohibit players from participating in non-PGA sanctioned majors, including this week’s US Open, which is run by the USGA. The USGA announced last week that it will not ban LIV players from “the 2022 US Open,” meaning that Mickelson, Johnson and others are welcome to play at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. The statement did not address future US Opens.
Cengiz hopes that this is their last US Open and that their days playing in golf’s most prestigious tournaments are numbered.