The widow of a 9/11 victim has called out Phil Mickelson and other former PGA stars for their decision to join the new Saudi-backed LIV Tour.
Terry Strada, national chair of 911familiesunited.org and widow of victim Tom Strada, penned a letter to Mickelson and his LIV colleagues earlier this week. Her husband was on the 104th floor of the north tower when the attack occurred on September 11, 2001.
As a freedom-loving American, I am grateful to have the freedom of choice where I work and who I work for, and I respect your right as well. As a 9/11 widow, I feel compelled to help you understand the level of depravity the Kingdom engaged in when it knowingly sent government agents here to establish the support network needed for those hijackers.
As you may know, Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were Saudis. It was the Saudis who cultivated and spread the evil, hate-filled Islamist ideology that inspired the violent jihadists to carry out the deadly 9/11 attacks. And, most egregiously, it is the Kingdom that has spent 20 years in denial: lying about their activities, and cowardly dodging the responsibility they bear. Yet these are your partners, and much to our disappointment, you appear pleased to be in business with them.
Given Saudi Arabia’s role in the death of our loved ones and those injured on 9/11—your fellow Americans—we are angered that you are so willing to help the Saudis cover up this history in their request for ‘respectability.’ When you partner with the Saudis, you become complicit with their whitewash, and help give them the reputational cover they so desperately crave—and are willing to pay handsomely to manufacture. The Saudis do not care about the deep-rooted sportsmanship of golf or its origins as a gentleman’s game built upon core values of mutual respect and personal integrity. They care about using professional golf to whitewash their reputation, and they are paying you to help them do it.
Mickelson responded to this letter during a pre-U.S. Open press conference on Monday.
The 51-year-old golfer, who reportedly signed a contract with the LIV Tour worth around $200 million, said he has the "deepest of sympathy and empathy" for the Stradas and other 9/11 families.
In a follow-up phone interview with the New York Post, Strada blasted Mickelson for these comments — calling them "disappointing, shallow and insulting."
"The way he hurried the reporter was very rude," Strada said. "I was shocked and disappointed that he was evading the question. He's aware that he's sportswashing, and he's trying to evade that. But he's involved in it."
"To see him involved with this is disappointing. It's also insulting," she added. "Golf is a game of honor and respectability. Now they're aiding The Kingdom in whitewashing history."