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Sen. Ron Wyden urges Pumpkin Ridge golfers to consider Saudi government human rights abuses

Golfers will tee off June 30 at the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club. It's part of the LIV International Golf Series, a league backed by the Saudi Arabian government.

PORTLAND, Ore — As opposition to a Saudi Arabian government-backed golf tournament escalates, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden is asking players to consider the death of a 15-year-old Portland girl.

Golfers are set to tee off June 30 at the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains. The event is part of the LIV International Golf Series, a league backed by the Saudi Arabian government.

Observers say the club — and tournament players, which could include Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeaumay pay a steep price because of human rights abuses committed by the Saudi government.

RELATED: Report: Brooks Koepka to join Saudi-backed LIV Golf series

According to Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, that includes the hit-and-run death of Fallon Smart in August 2016. Smart was struck by a vehicle allegedly driven by 20-year-old Saudi citizen Abdulahraman Sameer Noorah at Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard and 43rd Avenue. Investigators said Noorah was going nearly 60 miles per hour.

Noorah was held on a manslaughter charge with a $1 million bail. Upon making bail, he was placed on house arrest but removed the monitoring device he had been ordered to wear while awaiting trial.

RELATED: Despite growing backlash, controversial Saudi-backed golf tournament coming to Oregon

Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, has vociferously opposed the LIV tournament, a big reason being Smart’s death. He said he understands why some professional golfers may be quick to dismiss the political implications of the LIV series, but wishes they’d put themselves in Fallon’s family’s shoes.

“If one of the golfers was visiting with me this morning, and said 'I'm just here to play golf'...I would say ‘I understand why you might say that, so here's my question for you: How would you feel if Fallon Smart was your daughter?” Wyden said “‘And the person who murdered her was whisked out of the country by the government that is throwing enormous sums of money around to cleanse their bloodstained hands, to engage in sportswashing?’”

For more on the Pumpkin Ridge event, including a poll on the tournament, please visit the Portland Business Journal.

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