Mickelson and LIV Golf are attracting fans and outrage in Oregon

He urged Mickelson, “Be a man, man up, get the truth about who you’re sleeping with.”

The Saudi Arabian government has long denied any involvement in the 9/11 attacks. The 9/11 Commission, in a 2004 report, found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded” al Qaeda, which carried out the attacks. But there has been speculation that other, lower-ranking officials were involved, and an FBI investigation found circumstantial evidence of such support, according to a 2020 report by the New York Times Magazine and ProPublica.

Tim Frohlich, a banker from Brooklyn who escaped from the 80th floor of the South Tower but severely injured his left leg and ankle as he escaped the tower’s collapse, said golfers had “bought” and received “blood money” for the LIV series. The Saudi-sponsored tour offered signing bonuses, some reported as high as nine figures, to lure some golfers like Mickelson away from the PGA Tour.

“This is nothing more than a group of very talented athletes who seem to have turned their backs on the crime of murder,” said Frolich, who turns 58 this month.

Mickelson was not available to reporters on Thursday. In an interview published in February, he told his biographer, Alan Shipnuk, that the Saudis were “terrible” and had a “terrible human rights record,” including the 2018 killing and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi. Mickelson later apologized for his remarks. He joined LIV Golf in June.

Official attendance figures were not available for the opening round of the three-day tournament, which was played under cloudless skies with temperatures in the 70s. But the crowd, which watched mostly older players in decline, was only about a third of the daily attendance of up to 25,000 at a typical rival PGA Tour event. Mickelson, 52, finished the round at three over par, eight shots behind the leader, Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz. Still, Mickelson has a vocal and dedicated following.

Several viewers interviewed said they were just interested in watching a sporting event and avoiding geopolitics.

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