Jimmy Dunne, an independent director of the PGA Tour Board, played a key role in the approaches to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) – the backers of LIV – and persuading PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan to consider a deal.
He broke the news of the merger to his friend Rory McIlroy, who said he felt like “a sacrificial lamb” and “hated” LIV Golf, but Dunne called for the rival factions to unite.
He told Golf Channel: “The reality is that we need to come together as people. We have too much divisiveness.
“At some point in time – whether it’s our view of the Japanese or our view of the Germans – there is a point in time where you have to say, let’s try to get to know one another.
“Let’s try to understand, let’s try to demonstrate by example.”
The golfing controversy is mirrored by claims of Saudi sportwashing amid criticism of human rights and abuses and connections with the 9/11 attacks – a group representing families of victims accusing Monahan and PGA Tour leaders of “hypocrisy and greed”.
Dunne’s company was based in the World Trade Centre and lost 66 employees in the attack. He only missed being in the building because he was playing in a golf tournament.
“Every day, the first thing I think about is (Sept 11)… several times during the day I think about it and the last thing I think about at night is that,” the 65-year-old told the Golf Channel. “That has not changed since that day. And I’m not alone in that.
“I would guarantee that every one of those family members has that same condition. It is just a reality of how unbelievably sad and awful that day was.”
He continued: “I’m quite certain – and I’ve had conversations with a lot of very knowledgeable people – that the people I’m dealing with had nothing to do with 9/11.
“If someone can find someone who unequivocally was involved with it, I’ll kill them myself. We don’t have to wait around.”