Bryson DeChambeau has come to the defense of the announced merger between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, which has received a tidal wave of criticism from multiple groups, including the families of 9/11 victims because of Saudi Arabians' involvement in the 2001 terrorist attack.
When asked about his response to critics, Dechambeau, who signed a deal worth more than $125 million with the Saudi-funded LIV Golf a year ago, told CNN's Kaitlan Collins, "Nobody's perfect," before going on to put forth a message of forgiveness.
"I think as we move forward from that, we've got to look towards the pathway to peace, especially in forgiveness, especially if we're trying to mend the world and make it a better place," DeChambeau said (h/t Kevin Manahan of NJ.com). "I think this is what ... LIV is trying to accomplish."
Since its inception, LIV Golf has been under fire because of its ties to the Saudi Arabian government. The country has faced accusations of sportswashing because of its use of the Saudi Public Investment Fund to involve itself in sports such as golf, soccer, professional wrestling and Formula 1 racing in an attempt to overshadow its well-documented history of human rights violations.
Per Manahan, "Of the 19 Al Qaeda terrorists who hijacked four U.S. commercial airliners, 15 were citizens of Saudi Arabia, and Osama bin Laden, who planned the attack, was a member of one of Saudi Arabia's wealthiest families." In Feb. 2021, the BBC reported that the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was part of an operation "approved" by Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, according to a U.S. intelligence report.
After Tuesday's announcement of the merger, Terry Strada, the national chair of 9/11 Families United, said she was "absolutely appalled" at the move and added that the PGA Tour "should be ashamed," according to Manahan. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan was initially a staunch critic of LIV Golf before his surprising reversal, and Strada told Peter Botte of the New York Post that she feels Monahan "just sold everyone out—the 9/11 community, his players, his fans."
During his interview with Collins, DeChambeau acknowledged the pain felt by families of the terrorist attack while also expressing that it's time to move forward.
"We'll never be able to repay the [9/11] families back for what exactly happened just over 20 years ago. And what happened was...is...definitely horrible. And I think as time has gone on, 20 years has passed, and we're in a place now where it's time to start trying to work together to make things better together as a whole.
"I have deep sympathy. I don't know exactly what they're feeling. I can't ever know what they feel, but I have a huge amount of respect for their position and what they believe. Nor do I ever want anything like that to ever occur again. ... I think this is what they're trying to accomplish, LIV is trying to accomplish, the PIF is trying to accomplish, is a better world for everybody and a way to provide great entertainment for everybody around the world."
DeChambeau went on to add that he felt that the Saudi Arabian government is focused on making a positive impact through its ventures into sports.
"What I can say is that what they're trying to do, what they're trying to work on, is to be better allies, because we are allies with them," he said. "And look, I'm not going to get into politics of it. I'm not specialized in that. What I can say is they're trying to do good for the world, and showcase themselves in a light that hasn't been seen in a while. And nobody's perfect, but we're all trying to improve in life."