Graeme McDowell took a lot of heat last year after leaving the PGA Tour for LIV Golf.
“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,” McDowell said.
He now regrets his controversial comments made ahead of the inaugural LIV Golf event at Centurion Club last June.
A little over a year later, on The Thing About Golf podcast with Scottish golf journalist John Huggan, he discussed those comments.
“I feel like my skin’s thickened up a lot the last 16 months,” McDowell said. “I didn’t handle it very well the first three or four months. It bothered me that a reputation that I had spent 20 years building had actually just burned overnight. I’m like, is it really that fickle? Yes it is, is the answer. Public opinion will absolutely turn on you in a second.”
The veteran from Northern Ireland admitted he felt that he talked too much after making the move to the rival tour.
“I try to do my best,” he said. “I try to articulate what I felt best I can. Sometimes you say too much.”
But he clearly hasn’t learned his lesson. McDowell then went out of his way to lay blame to the PGA Tour in epic fashion.
“Was it a strategic, planted narrative paid for by the PGA Tour? I don’t know,” McDowell said to Huggan. “I mean I’m totally speculating when I say that.”
The PGA Tour hasn’t needed to create a narrative that Saudi Arabia has attempted to sportswash its reputation. The facts speak for themselves.
Nevertheless, he still felt the need to defend his actions.
He told Huggan that he had been “prepped” to give answers from LIV Golf.
“I was not a paid ambassador for Saudi Arabia human rights. I was a paid ambassador for a golf tour,” McDowell said. “You start answering questions that can’t be answered. I regret those answers, not that they were necessarily wrong; that was what we had been prepped to say by this golf tour that’s paying me.”
“I’m not being paid by the Saudi Arabian human rights organization, I’m being paid by this new start-up golf tour, which is a financially lucrative opportunity for me at this stage in my career. The end.”
It’s refreshing to hear McDowell speak so candidly. It’s just a shame it came over a year later after his reputation had been dragged through the mud. But as he said, it was all about business.
Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.