While all of the players involved in LIV Golf have attempted to justify their participation in the controversial tour, few have been more outspoken in their support for the Saudi-backed venture than Graeme McDowell.
The Portrush native had experienced quite a dip in his career over the last number of years, dropping outside the top 350 players in the world rankings in recent times. With his fortunes on the PGA Tour worsening, he opted to take the pay day available in its newest competitor.
The money on offer in LIV Golf is certainly mind blowing, although McDowell seems insistent that this venture is all about growing both the game and Saudi Arabia.
He was heavily criticised for his comments ahead of the maiden event on the tour, essentially giving a textbook definition of sportswashing when attempting to justify his move. He would also resign his membership in the PGA Tour before teeing off in the event.
Graeme McDowell doubles down on LIV Golf stance
Of course, the vast majority of the biggest names in the sport have resisted the advances of LIV Golf up to this point.
The field for their first event last week consisted mostly of a few big names who are well past their peak, as well as a number of less familiar journeyman pros.
When this fact was put to McDowell on Twitter last night, he suggested that the player pool would improve significantly in the future. He also said the criticisms directed at LIV Golf amounted to a 'smear campaign'.
Watch this space. It will be a compelling field in no time. There is room for the sport for this product. Once the smear campaign dies down and the golf takes over, we will see. https://t.co/gpETU0cnLq
— Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell) June 19, 2022
Unsurprisingly, he has been heavily criticised for these latest comments.
“Smear campaign” 😂😂😂 Come on now.
— Ewan Murray (@mrewanmurray) June 19, 2022
Sorry Graeme, lost all respect for you- can’t believe you have tainted your legacy by chasing Saudi blood money. You are entitled to do so but how rich do you need to be? It’s not a smear campaign at all it’s just disappointing to see role models crumble. #LIVGolf https://t.co/wZiwkRkY82
— Professor Feargal Cochrane (@fecochrane1) June 19, 2022
Christ, this fella is an embarrassment https://t.co/Nnnc6MKQ5k
— Kieran Burke 🏇⚽🎯🏎️🎙️ (@Kieran_B_Sport) June 19, 2022
"Smear campaign". Wowwww talk about tone deaf and demolishing your rep https://t.co/DbfcNr7BmY
— Conall Ó Fátharta (@ococonuts) June 19, 2022
By definition, a “smear campaign” involves lies. Anything I’ve seen calling out the Saudi tour golfers has been exposing what is for them an uncomfortable truth about human rights.
One which Graeme seems to think will disappear. How disrespectful to suffering people. #LIVGolf https://t.co/rOHNLiT5rO
— Gareth Hanna (@GarethHanna11) June 19, 2022
Smear?? If you can’t handle questions about human rights abuses and archaic attitudes then no this won’t die down. Sorry G Mac, I’ve been a fan of yours for years, but I’m having trouble with this 🤔 I’m waiting for a decent explanation from anyone 🤷🏻♀️ https://t.co/VCUnybAumX
— Michelle Carpenter (@MeeshWUFC) June 19, 2022
As mentioned above, these latest comments came after McDowell openly admitted he was happy to be involved in Saudi Arabia's attempts to use golf as a way to soften Saudi Arabia's global reputation.
I really feel golf is a force of good in the world and I love using the game of golf as something to help grow around the world and be role models to kids. We’re not politicians.
If Saudi Arabia want to use the game of golf as a way for them to get to where they want to be, I think we’re proud to help them on that journey, using the game of golf and the abilities we have to help grow the sport.
While it remains to be seen what happens with LIV Golf, it seems certain that Graeme McDowell has lost quite a few fans over the last few weeks.