WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice is in favor of the LIV Golf International series coming to The Greenbrier Resort for an event, a resort operated under the Justice-family’s Greenbrier Hotel Corp.
Greg Norman, chief executive of the series, was on the grounds of the Greenbrier this week checking out the Old White course, which was first reported by the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
During his coronavirus media briefing on Thursday, Justice answered questions about the controversial series potentially coming to the Mountain State in 2023.
“I think bringing the LIV Golf tour to West Virginia would be a really good thing. I think it would be for the golf fans and bring an economic boost to our state,” Justice said.
The series, which features former PGA Tour stars Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, and Bryson DeChambeau, is a Saudi-backed tour. LIV Golf announced on July 27 that it will expand from eight events to 14 in 2023.
Norman was approached by the Gazette-Mail on Wednesday morning at the course but declined to comment. He said he had to meet with Justice.
“You have a lot of superstar players that could come to West Virginia,” Justice said. “We could have a real opportunity to see them and enjoy the time. They have a different approach to the game and are making it a whole lot more fun.”
The LIV Golf tour splashed onto the scene as a competitor to the PGA Tour this summer. Its first event was held in June at the Centurion Club in London, England and the most recent event was at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey.
The controversy over the tour comes with its ties to the Saudi Arabian government as it is backed by Saudia Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. During the LIV event in New Jersey last week, families of 9/11 victims blasted tour golfers and leaders. The families have long suspected a link between Saudi Arabian officials and the hijackers of the 9/11 terror attacks, as reported by Spectrum News NY 1.
During the briefing Thursday, Justice called Saudi Arabia ‘an ally forever’ with the United States. He discussed the United States’ involvement in the Gulf War in the 90s.
“At the end of the day, Saudi Arabia is our ally. We should be proud of the fact that they are just that,” the governor stated.
A LIV Golf series stop would not be the first time that professional stopped at the Greenbrier Resort. The Old White course hosted The Greenbrier Classic, a PGA Tour event, nine times in 10 years since beginning in 2010. The event did not occur in 2016 due to the June flooding in the area.
Justice said golf has become ‘semi-stagnant’ and that getting the LIV Golf tour is a way to ‘juice it up and make it better.’
“There’s no one that owns golf. That’s all there is to it and that’s the way it should be forever. Because there is so much room under the umbrellas. There is so much potential prosperity and potential under the umbrellas,” Justice said.
Justice said his daughter Jill and her husband Adam has been involved in negotiations with LIV Golf. He also called Norman ‘a class-act.’