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With more than 18 holes, Trump praises LIV Golf, its Saudi backers and its own courses

During his four years in office, former President Donald Trump visited Trump National Golf Club outside Washington more than 100 times, according to TrumpGolfCount.com, which kept a close record of such outings. Since then, Trump has continued to play a lot of golf — just not at the private course he owns in Loudoun County, about 25 miles from the White House.

“I played it a little bit when I was in office. It’s about 22 minutes from the White House. I do miss it,” he said. “I haven’t seen it in a while.”

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Even as countless lawsuits, criminal investigations and presidential campaigns swirl around him, Trump returned to his Northern Virginia course on Thursday to play in a pro-am tournament ahead of the LIV Golf event that runs Friday through Sunday. will be held at Trump National. While he had plenty to say about recent political headlines as he chatted with reporters between drives and putts — from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ launch of the Republican presidential campaign (“a disaster”) to the investigation into his dealing with secret documents (“a fraudster”). job”) – Trump focused primarily on golf. He praised the Saudi benefactors funding LIV while criticizing the PGA Tour, which is battling the controversial upstart league in federal court.

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“I suspect the Tour wants to merge soon because they can’t go on like this,” Trump predicted.

Meanwhile, the future for LIV Golf, which has six events in its first full season and has struggled to keep the spotlight on its actual golf product, is “good,” the former president said, in part because his Saudi benefactors have particularly deep pockets. .

“Unlimited money. I think the Tour made a big mistake playing games,” he said. “They have unlimited money, and they love it, and it’s been great publicity for Saudi Arabia.”

Trump has aligned closely with LIV. His courses hosted two events last year and will host three this season. Thursday was the third LIV pro-am event for Trump, playing alongside Patrick Reed for nine holes and then Graeme McDowell for the back nine. Eric Trump and Bob Koepka – father of Brooks Koepka, winner of the PGA Championship last weekend – completed the group.

Hosting LIV events is believed to be a lucrative arrangement for Trump, though neither side has revealed details. Trump downplayed the impact on his own bank account, calling it “peanuts to me,” and saying he didn’t think the Saudis were doing anything inappropriate by lining the pockets of a former president — and the Republican front-runner for the 2024 election.

“They pay a rent. They want to use my properties because they are the best properties,” Trump said. “There is no property like this.”

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The relationship has drawn the ire of critics, including some families of 9/11 victims who have protested at LIV events and wrote a letter to Trump this month asking for a meeting at his course.

“I totally understand them and we love them,” Trump said of the 9/11 families. “But it’s a huge economic development, a huge number of jobs, just for an event like this — it’s a big event. A huge number of jobs. But I totally understand them, actually.”

Trump spent much of his round bragging about his courses, most notably Trump National, a long, sprawling course that runs along the Potomac River. He called it the top club in the Washington area, better than the Congressional Country Club, which has hosted three US Opens.

“This blows Congress away… Congress can’t beat this,” Trump said.

Bravado aside, Trump’s courses have not hosted a major championship. Virginia’s golf course hosted the 2017 Senior PGA Championship, and the PGA of America was set to hold its 2022 PGA Championship at its course in Bedminster, NJ, but it stripped Trump of his host honors five days after the January 6 riot.

“They had to pay me a lot of money, as you know,” he said. “It was stupid and I guarantee you if they had to do it again they wouldn’t have.”

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Trump said he is hopeful, if not certain, that one of his properties will house another major.

“They love the golf courses,” he said of golf’s governing bodies. “But I think they probably think of me as a bit controversial at this point, which is silly. You can make a lot of money out of controversy. They love the courses. They really love me, but they don’t want to say it publicly. “

Trump’s play was steady on Thursday in the modified best-ball scramble event, which was closed to the public. He took selfies with volunteers and befriended the small group of spectators inside the gates of the club.

This weekend’s event is LIV’s first since Koepka won his fifth major, boosting the LIV brand. It’s also because the sport’s stakeholders are grappling with whether or not to include the circuit’s golfers in the Ryder Cup.

“It hurts the Ryder Cup terribly. You have so many players – the best players,” Trump said. “And there are some other big signings, from what I’m hearing. Very, very big signings. Really, really big. Better than the top 10. That’s exactly what I’m hearing.”

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