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Graeme McDowell Surprised By Backlash, But Doesn't Regret LIV Golf Move

Graeme McDowell Surprised By Backlash, But Doesn't Regret LIV Golf Move
By Gary Connaughton

Of all the names in the world of golf that have been criticised for their moves to LIV Golf, Graeme McDowell has probably been the most heavily discussed.

The Northern Irishman has made some misguided comments since his move to the Saudi-backed venture has been confirmed. Whereas many of colleagues have simply attempted to ignore the issues surrounding getting into bed with the regime, his attempts to justify it have landed him in hot water.

McDowell sees this as purely a golfing venture, although he has previously been hesitant to say that it is all about the massive payday that golfers are guaranteed if they commit to the tour.

Graeme McDowell opens up on LIV Golf fallout

The 42-year old is in the field at this week's JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor, one of the rare occasions where players from the PGA, European, and LIV Golf tours will all be present in 2022.

In an enthralling interview in the Irish Independent, McDowell opened up about the negativity that has been directed his way in recent weeks. While he is disappointed with the way his relationship with the European Tour disintegrated, the major winner did also hint for the first time that a LIV Golf move was about taking advantage of a 'business opportunity'.

The hardest thing for me the last three or four weeks is the negative fallout and being linked to comments, where all you’re trying to do is say the right things and do the right thing for a golf organisation that are giving us a phenomenal opportunity...

The only thing I can say is I have to be all-in. I'm 43 and 380th in the world. My value to these guys is only so much. I have to try to commit the best I can to the LIV Tour, and that meant not obviously being able to play last week...

I've played golf all over the world for, you know, countries that if you dug deep enough, you might think, what am I doing playing golf here. You could have that conversation so many ways and so many times over the last 20 years.

We’ve been all over the Middle East and all over Asia...

The amount of shit that's been written about me the last six weeks, it's something I have never had to deal with in my golfing career before...

Listen, at this point in my career, it's impossible to walk away from the business opportunity that is LIV. Once we get past all the bullshit, there is room in the sport for this product.

Graeme McDowell during day one of the JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor Golf Club in Adare, Limerick. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Of course, golf is far from the only sport where Saudi Arabia have flexed their financial muscles over the last decade or so. Not only have events in the country been part of the traditional tours for some time, but they have also become heavily involved in the likes of football and boxing in recent years. That is without even mentioning their involvement in other areas of business.

In saying that, there have been few clearer attempts to buy influence or sportswash than LIV Golf.

McDowell continues to claim that the actions of the Saudi regime in the past is not a reason for golfers to avoid going into business with them.

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All the tenuous links to the things that these guys have allegedly done when we know that the links are, like I say, tenuous at best. It doesn’t mean everyone in Saudi Arabia is a bad person...

Of course there's some tenuous links to Saudi Arabia but you don't see the biggest companies in the world not doing business out there and the biggest American companies not doing business out there...

Joe Biden, he's going to jump on a plane and sit down with MBS (Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia) in two weeks' time because he needs his oil. But golfers, we're the worst people in the world. How are we the worst people in the world?

You can read the full in-depth interview with the Irish Independent here and we would encourage you to do so.

The overarching message that Graeme McDowell wants to get out there is that this controversy surrounding LIV Golf will eventually pass and that it will become part and parcel of the golfing calendar.

You may call that sportswashing, but others would label is a 'business opportunity'.

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SEE ALSO: Why Jordan Spieth Was Disqualified From The JP McManus Pro-Am

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