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Graeme McDowell: I’ve gotten death threats but I don’t regret decision to join Saudi rebel tour

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Graeme McDowell driving on the seventh hole during day one of the JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor Golf Club. McDowell carded a one-under-par 71 in his opening round. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Graeme McDowell driving on the seventh hole during day one of the JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor Golf Club. McDowell carded a one-under-par 71 in his opening round. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Graeme McDowell driving on the seventh hole during day one of the JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor Golf Club. McDowell carded a one-under-par 71 in his opening round. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Graeme McDowell has revealed how he has received death threats after signing up with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series.

Speaking in a series of explosive media interviews at the JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor, where Tiger Woods struggled to an five-over 77 in front of 40,000 fans, the 2010 US Open champion opened up about his regrets about speaking publicly in support of the breakaway LIV Golf tour, bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

Last month, McDowell justified his move, saying: “If Saudi Arabia wanted to use the game of golf as a way for them to get to where they want to be, and they have the resources to accelerate that experience, I think we are proud to help them on that journey.”

The Portrush man (42) now admits he’s been through a tough time mentally since the LIV Golf Series started up near London on June 9 and regrets not keeping his mouth shut.

“I don’t wake up and feel proud of myself every day,” McDowell told BBC NI. “I can’t wake up and turn on my Instagram or Twitter account without someone telling me to go die. It’s been really tough couple of months but again, I expected it.

“I knew what the consequences were going to be but I didn’t realise just how heavily this was going to be hammered, trying to answer questions which are unanswerable. That’s problem the only mistake I made in London when I was at my press conference. I just wish I had said nothing.” However, he responded with a succinct ‘no’ when asked if he was sorry he signed up.

The former Ryder Cup star, who fears his dream of captaining Europe in the Ryder Cup at Adare Manor in 2027 has likely been shattered, has no problems admitting he’s gone to LIV Golf for the money.

“At the end of the day I’m a pro golfer who has made a business decision based on money,” he told RTé Radio.

“I’ve never thought about where money comes from in 20 years out here, I played in all parts of the world from China to the Middle East to South Africa.”

While he said he recognised things that have happened in Saudi Arabia are unacceptable, he all but accused the DP World Tour of hypocrisy after they sanctioned the Saudi International in 2020 and 2021.

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Commenting on his win in the inaugural Saudi International in 2020, he said: “When that million dollars landed in my bank account, no-one told me on my Twitter account to go die.”

The DP World Tour all but named McDowell last week when responding to the threat of litigation from LIV Golf players over their ban on competing in this week’s PGA Tour co-sanctioned Scottish Open.

Responding to their claims that they “cared deeply” about the DP World Tour, CEO Keith Pelley made a thinly veiled reference to McDowell, who was expected to host the Horizon Irish Open at Mount Juliet but reneged
and tried to negotiate a compromise when LIV Golf scheduled its second event in Portland last week opposite the $6m Horizon Irish Open at Mount Juliet.

“Perhaps some of them could have played in Ireland this week in support of our new title sponsor, in particular one player who gave us a signed commitment to play at Mount Juliet,” Pelley said in a statement.

McDowell accused deputy CEO and Ryder Cup director Guys Kinnings of leaking their private conversation about his Irish Open problem and his doubts about LIV Golf to the media, which was categorically denied last night by the DP World Tour in a statement.


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