Golfer Phil Mickleson has said he has ‘deepest sympathy’ to the families who lost loved ones in the 9/11 terror attacks, after he’s been met with a backlash over his decision to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series.
Mickleson took part in a recent press conference where a reporter asked him if he felt he owed an explanation to families who lost loved ones in the horrific attacks.
The reporter began by mentioning a letter written by Terry Strada, the national chair of 911familiesunited.org, who lost her husband in 9/11, criticising Mickleson and others who had joined the LIV Golf Tour.
Part way through the question, Mickleson appeared to lose his patience with the reporter, interrupting to ask: “No, I’ve read all that. Is there a question in there?”
The reporter then replied: “Yes there is. How do you explain to them - not to us, but to them - what you have decided to do?” to which Mickleson replied: “I would say to the Strada family, I would say to everyone that has lost loved ones, lost friends on 9/11 that I have deep, deep empathy for them.
"I can’t emphasise that enough. I have the deepest of sympathy and empathy for them.”
Later in the press conference, when asked if he would be replying to the letter privately, Mickleson repeated: “I think, I speak for pretty much every American when I say we feel the deepest of sympathy and the deepest of empathy for those that have lost loved one [and] friends in 9/11.
“It affected all of us and for those who were directly affected… I can’t emphasise enough how much empathy I have for them.”
Mother-of-three Strada, who lost husband Tim in the 2001 attacks, has previously said Mickleson should ‘be ashamed’ of his actions.
She told Press Association: “Phil knows exactly what he’s doing, and he and his fellow LIV golfers should be ashamed.
“They are helping the Saudi regime sportswash their reputation in return for tens of millions of dollars, at the very same time our government is rolling out more damning evidence of Saudi culpability in the 9/11 attacks.
“As the PGA Tour commissioner [Jay Monahan] said Sunday, ‘You’d have to be living under a rock’ to not understand the implications of involving yourself with the Saudis.”
The LIV Golf Tour has a $250 million (£208m) prize fund, with the money coming from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF).
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