Mickelson: I Have 'Deep Empathy' for 9/11 Families

But veteran golfer will still play in LIV Golf pro league funded by Saudi Arabia
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2022 12:38 PM CDT
LIV Golf's Mickelson Is Full of 'Respect,' Not Regret
Phil Mickelson of the United States plays from a bunker during Day Two of the LIV Golf Invitational Series at the Centurion Club in St. Albans, England, on Friday.   (Steven Paston/PA via AP)

(Newser) – Phil Mickelson has the "deepest sympathy" for the families of those killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks—but he'll continue to play in the professional golf league lavishly funded by the Saudi Arabian government's Public Investment Fund. The golfer was among several pros called out by 9/11 Families United for joining the LIV Golf Invitational Series and thereby partnering with those "who cultivated and spread the evil, hate-filled Islamist ideology that inspired the violent jihadists to carry out the deadly 9/11 attacks," per a letter written by the group, reports Golf.com. Asked about the criticism Monday, Mickelson looked "visibly uncomfortable" as he responded at a press conference ahead of the US Open, per the Guardian.

"I would say to everyone that has lost loved ones, lost friends on 9/11 that I have deep, deep empathy for them," said the golfer, who was "less chipper than usual, sort of distant, almost robotic," per the Washington Post. "I have the deepest of sympathy and empathy for them." He went on to describe his "respect" for critics, disagreeing fans, and former colleagues. 9/11 Families United head Terry Strada wasn't moved. "Phil knows exactly what he's doing, and he and his fellow LIV golfers should be ashamed," she said, per the Guardian. "They are helping the Saudi regime sportswash their reputation in return for tens of millions of dollars, at the very same time our government is rolling out more damning evidence of Saudi culpability in the 9/11 attacks."

"I am going to play the LIV events," the 51-year-old golf veteran said, confirming the criticism hasn't resulted in a change of heart. "With fewer tournaments, it allows me to have more balance in my life." Though the PGA Tour has suspended Mickelson and 16 other golfers who competed in last week's inaugural LIV Golf Invitational, it doesn't run the majors tournaments, meaning LIV players can still compete at the US Open. But Mickelson's "decision to join LIV is an indelible part of his story now, as much as his on-course daring and his 3-inch vertical," writes Jay Busbee at Yahoo. "He chose money over legacy, and he's about to find out exactly what that means to his fans." (Read more Phil Mickelson stories.)

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