Graeme McDowell Shocked By People Wishing Him Dead Since He Switched To LIV Golf

Graeme McDowell expressed his shock at the level of vitriol generated by his move to the LIV Golf tour when he revealed that he now regularly receives messages on social media wishing him dead.

The former Ryder Cup fan said he expected ramifications from his decision to join the controversial Saudi-backed series, but he didn’t expect to be “torn to shreds”.

The 2010 US Open champion acknowledged that his move to LIV was “about the money,” but said the negativity surrounding the rebel initiative drowned out the positive changes it was trying to make to the game of golf.

McDowell faced heavy criticism after his widespread defense of the controversial new tour at a press conference ahead of the inaugural event in London last month.

He now says he wishes he hadn’t said anything at the Centurion Club press event.

Graeme McDowell draws a hat for a fan

Graeme McDowell draws a hat for a fan (Kieran Cleeves/PA)

The 42-year-old from Portrush spoke to BBC NI on Monday as he took part in the JP McManus Pro-Am event at Adare Manor in Co Limerick.

“I never really made peace with how vicious the attacks would be in regards to my reputation, on social media the things I had said were absolutely torn to shreds,” he told BBC NI.

“And it’s very difficult because I get questions for which there is no good answer.

“My moral integrity is constantly being attacked, while in the end I’m just trying to play golf. I am trying to make a business decision for me and my family. And, you know, I’ve paid my dues in this game for the past 20 years, I’ve tried to conduct myself the right way.

“The weak ties to what the Saudi regime has done, the terrible things they’ve done, they’re trying to link this to golf and playing professional golf.

“It’s really hard when you’re in a situation where you’re literally asked questions that there are no right answers to and you’re just torn for it.”

Last month at the Centurion Club, McDowell described the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as “reprehensible” when he was pressed for crimes and human rights abuses linked to the regime.

But he insisted the LIV players were “not politicians” and said he was “proud” of helping Saudi Arabia “get where they want to be”.

On Monday, McDowell said: “I don’t wake up every day and am proud of myself. You know, I can’t turn on my Instagram or Twitter account without someone telling me to die. It’s been a really tough few months.

“But again, I expected it, I knew what the consequences would be, I just didn’t realize how heavily this would be hammered, trying to answer questions that are unanswerable.

“That’s probably the only mistake I made in London at the first event when I was at my press conference – I wish I hadn’t said anything.

“I wish I just sat there and shook my head a little bit and said no comment. But it’s not who I am. I always try to be honest and try to answer questions. I shouldn’t have worried.”

LIV Golf Invitational Series – London – Day Three – Centurion Club

Graeme McDowell plays a shot on the 13th during day three of the LIV Golf Invitational Series at the Centurion Club (Kieran Cleeves/PA)

The Northern Irishman said professional golf is played in many countries with questionable human rights records.

“I’ve played golf all over the world and in countries whose human rights records are likely to be shattered as well,” he said.

“I’ve never had any doubts about being in China or the Middle East or around the world.

“What I do is play golf professionally, I play golf for money. I’ve chased that money all over the world my entire career. I’m turning 43 next month and you know, the LIV Golf opportunity was incredibly lucrative. Am I researching the moral of every dollar I’ve ever earned? No, not me.

“And unfortunately, because of the competitive threat that this tour is being compared to the other tours in the world, the negativity is heavily focused on this and it really hurts to see my name attacked the way it has been done.”

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