Even Navy SEAL skydivers can’t steal the show from Donald Trump at LIV Golf tour event at his New Jersey club as 9/11 families protest the ex-POTUS and the Saudi-backed PGA rival
It was shortly after 1pm in Bedminster when a small plane appeared over Trump National Golf Club and, out of the grey skies, four parachutes fell. One carried a giant Stars and Stripes, from behind another fluttered the words: LIV Golf.
The Frog-X Navy SEAL Parachute Team circled down towards the 18th fairway; down below, Bryson DeChambeau and Sergio Garcia paused practice to follow their descent. Branden Grace had more pressing matters: a two-footer to make on the putting green.
All the while, the sound of AC/DC rumbled around this surreal scene. Organizers’ song of choice to mark another assault on golf’s established order? Thunderstruck. Then came the lightning rod.
Donald Trump rolled down the slope in a buggy, trailed by his electric motorcade, and as fans raced to mob him, the former president stepped up on to the grandstand to wild cheers.
‘The real attraction!’ one supporter shouted before Trump and his son, Donald Jr, made their way on to the first tee to cries of ‘Four more years!’
Donald Trump raises his index finger to the crowd and gets a thumbs up from one supporter
It was shortly after 1pm in Bedminster when a small plane appeared over Trump National Golf Club and, out of the grey skies, four parachutes fell. One carried a giant Stars and Stripes, from behind another fluttered the words: LIV Golf (pictured)
Donald Trump chats with LIV Golf Tour boss Greg Norman at Friday’s event in New Jersey
Family members of those killed on 9/11 and survivors sent former President Donald Trump a letter condemning his decision to host the Saudi-funded LIV Golf tournament at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey on Friday
(Left) Donald Trump shares a laugh with Brooks Koepka. (Right) Kimberly Guilfoyle is seen at The LIV Golf Invitational Bedminster
There, they stood in line, alongside LIV chief Greg Norman and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the Saudi Public Investment Fund behind this circus. It was a jarring, provocative image of golf’s new rebel alliance.
‘What’s Jay Monahan doing right now?’ one fan asked before answering his own question about the PGA Tour commissioner. ‘Cry-ing!’
Perhaps. Or perhaps Monahan surveyed the scene from afar and concluded, as many players and fans already have: this exhibition of greed – oh, and golf – is all rather grim.
Trump, who ended up watching the closing stages alongside Caitlyn Jenner from a private area next to 16th tee, was at least on time. And so, at 1.15pm local time, a horn squeaked from down the fairway and this third LIV tournament was underway.
The next 54 holes will do little to distract from the storm which had been brewing long before Trump’s grandstanding. Long before Henrik Stenson – among LIV’s most recent, most symbolic and antagonistic recruits – stood on the back of a buggy en route to the practice area as rain fell overhead.
The first hole is played at The LIV Golf Invitational Bedminster 2022 at Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster,
Even the resident DJ, whose music pierced this corner of New Jersey hours ahead of the shotgun start, could not drown out the noise of resistance nearby.
Less than four miles away, on the roadside outside a public library, more families of 9/11 victims made their voices heard. ‘We’re standing here, in the backyard of where 750 people were turned to dust,’ one speaker said. ‘We cannot believe we have to be here 21 years later, speaking out against a government that’s trying to sportswash or whitewash their atrocities.’
On which side of the fault lines you stood was obvious from what was written across your hat. The protesters in Bedminster wore red caps which read: 9/11 Justice. Trump, and many fans here, sported red too. Their hats carried that more incendiary, four-word phrase: Make America Great Again.
They included a photographer and an elderly lady. Many more wore TRUMP hats. Among them? A young boy who earned a high-five from DeChambeau as the ‘Crushers’ team captain wandered on to the first tee to fire his first bomb of this barmy, combustible weekend.
Donald Trump leans on Bryson DeChambeau as the first hole is being played on Friday