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Journalist shames LIV golfers despite connections to schools that take in Saudi funds

LIV golfers have been shamed since their controversial decisions, and backlash returned this past week during the Masters – but perhaps hypocritically.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story read that Christine Brennan is an active member of the University of Toledo Board of Trustees. She left her position with the school in 2021. The current version further clarifies her role on the board.

LIV golfers have been no strangers to backlash, and it heightened this past weekend during the Masters.

Dozens of golfers defected from the PGA Tour to LIV, a golf league that is backed monetarily by the Saudis.

LIV's participants are guaranteed money in their contracts – some of which reportedly go well into nine-figures. On the contrary, PGA Tour members make their living on the course based on where they finish at each tournament.

Those in LIV are banned from playing in PGA Tour-sanctioned events, but majors, including the Masters, are their own entities. And because sports have their own way of destiny, after months of verbal, and legal, back-and-forth, it was PGA vs. LIV on golf's biggest stage, as Jon Rahm and LIV's Brooks Koepka were the final pairing on Sunday.


Koepka went to LIV last year, admittedly a decision that was influenced by his lack of health and question marks around whether he could return to form. Koepka let a green jacket slip to first-time winner Rahm with a 75 in the final round.

Longtime journalist Christine Brennan, quite literally, thanked Rahm for winning the Masters.

"Here’s a message from the leaders of men’s golf, especially Augusta National Golf Club, for Spain’s Jon Rahm; Thank you. Thank you for winning the Masters so LIV Golf didn’t," she wrote for Golfweek.

"That man won the Masters Sunday. And because he won, LIV lost," she continued, saying Rahm saved the sport from "utter embarrassment." 

"That’s the story. That’s the headline. At the end of the day, that’s really all that matters."

Brennan was quick to criticize the golfers for taking the Saudi money.


"Let us make no mistake what Koepka, [Phil] Mickelson, [Patrick] Reed and the other 15 LIV golfers who arrived here have done. They left their regular tour jobs to go into the ‘sportswashing’ business with Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, the mastermind of the killing and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, as well as his golf-bro buddies in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the nation responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States and abysmal human rights violations against women and the LGBTQ community."

But there's a wrinkle here – Brennan was a non-voting national trustee on the University of Toledo Board of Trustees from 2017 to 2021. The school brought in more than $13 million worth of Saudi funding between February 2020 and June 2022.

Brennan was a member of the Academic and Student Affairs Committee, as well as the Trusteeship and Governance Committee. 

She also is listed as a current member of the board of trustees at the University of Northwestern as well as currently a professor of practice at Northwestern's journalism school. Northwestern received over $1 million from Saudi Arabia from 2019 to 2022.

Both her current and former positions at Northwestern and Toledo are in a voluntary capacity and unpaid.

Koepka and Mickelson both finished -8 and tied for second, while Reed (-7) finished T-4 with Jordan Spieth and Russell Henley. Twelve of the 18 LIV Golfers made the cut.

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