Phil Mickelson has ‘deep sympathy’ for the victims of 9/11 after being criticized for joining the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series

The six-time main winner appeared at the inaugural event for the new project last week at the Centurion Club near London.

The letter sent on 9/11 by United Families – a coalition of families and survivors of the 2001 terrorist attacks – to Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Kevin Na, expressed their “anger” at the players involved in the “sportswashing” campaign. “Billions of dollars”.

On Monday, at an uncomfortable news conference for Mickelson, reporters questioned the six-time winner over the letter – written by group president Terry Strada – ahead of the start of the US Open on Thursday.

“I would like to say to the Strada family, I would like to say to everyone who lost loved ones, lost friends on 9/11 that I feel deep sympathy for them. I cannot stress that enough,” Mickelson said.

“I have the deepest sympathy and sympathy for them.”

When asked later in his press conference if he would respond privately to Strada’s letter, Mickelson reiterated the sentiments of his earlier answer.

“I think I speak for nearly every American in that we feel the deepest sympathy and the deepest sympathy for those who lost loved ones and friends on 9/11. It affected all of us, and on those who were directly affected I think — I cannot stress enough how much my sympathy is for them all. “.

Later on Monday, Strada released a statement in response to Mickelson’s answers.

“Phil knows exactly what he’s doing, and he and his fellow Leaf golfers should be ashamed of it,” wrote Strada, whose husband Tom died in the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

“They are helping the Saudi regime ‘sport washing’ of its reputation for tens of millions of dollars, and at the same time our government is providing more compelling evidence of Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks.

“As the PGA Tour commissioner said on Sunday, ‘You have to live under a rock,’ so you don’t understand the implications of getting yourself involved with the Saudis.”

CNN has contacted LIV Golf for comment and has yet to receive a response.

Following an executive order from President Joe Biden in 2021 to declassify the 9/11 documents, the FBI released public documents relating to its investigation into the 9/11 terrorist attacks and suspected Saudi government support for the hijackers.

The first, released last year, and beginning in 2016, provides details of the FBI’s work to investigate alleged logistical support that a Saudi consular official and a suspected Saudi intelligence agent in Los Angeles provided to at least two of the kidnapped men. Planes on September 11, 2001. The document, released on the 20th anniversary of the deadly attacks, still contains important revisions.

The report details multiple contacts and witness testimony that prompted the FBI’s suspicion of Omar al-Bayoumi, who is allegedly a Saudi student in Los Angeles but the FBI suspects of being a Saudi intelligence agent. The FBI document describes him as being deeply involved in providing “travel, accommodation and financing assistance” to the kidnappers.

Fifteen of the 19 al-Qaeda terrorists who hijacked four planes on September 11, 2001 were Saudi citizens.

In September 2021, Families United said on September 11 that the report “casts doubt on Saudi complicity in the attacks.”

The Saudi government has repeatedly denied any government involvement in the attacks. On Tuesday, CNN contacted Saudi Arabia for comment and has yet to receive a response.

Mickelson was one of 17 players suspended by the PGA Tour for participating in the big-money LIV golf tournament.

The LIV Golf Series, backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), has threatened to shake the foundations of traditional golf by offering players staggering sums of money to earn beyond scheduled golf rounds.

But Mickelson and the other dissident players faced criticism for their decision to leave the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour.

This led to some uncomfortable press conferences for Mickelson, as he repeatedly faced tough questions about the topic of leaving the PGA Tour and his human rights record in Saudi Arabia.

However, he says he would “respect” if people disagree, but in his opinion, moving to the LIV Golf Series “at this time was the right decision” for him.

Going forward, Mickelson says he hopes golfers will have a choice in where they ply their trade and not be restricted.

Mickelson speaks to the media during a press conference ahead of the 2022 US Open.

“I prefer to be able to choose which path I desire, one or the other or both,” he explained.

“I feel that… I have made so much money to the PGA Tour and golf that I could in my 30 years here, and through my course accomplishments, I have earned a lifetime membership. I intend to keep that and then choose to proceed with the events to be played and not the events “.

The 2022 US Open kicks off Thursday in Brooklyn, Massachusetts, and Mickelson was among the tournament participants.

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