NORTH PLAINS, Ore. (KOIN) — Cynthia Trippett stood outside at the SunStone Rescue Ranch, across from the 18th hole at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club where the Saudi-financed LIV Golf tour held its first tournament in the US. She had a message for the Saudi Crown Prince.

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Fallon Smart in an undated photo (KOIN file, 2016)

“Please send the people who were in that car that killed my grandchild, Fallon Smart, please send them back to Oregon so that we can continue through our legal justice system,” she said.

On August 20, 2016, Fallon Smart was about to enter her sophomore year at Franklin High School when she was hit and killed by Abdulahraman Sameer Noorah while crossing SE Hawthorne at 42nd.

Investigators said Noorah — who was 20 at the time — was speeding between 55 and 60 mph and was allegedly passing vehicles in the center lane along Hawthorne between 46th and 43rd at the time of the crash.

Noorah, a Saudi citizen who was in the United States on a school scholarship, was arrested that day. He bailed out of jail just weeks after the crash and was placed on house arrest. Not long after, he removed the GPS monitoring device he had been wearing since being released on bail.

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Abdulrahman Noorah returned to the scene of the crash on SE Hawthorne that killed Fallon Smart, August 19, 2016 (KOIN)

KOIN 6 News learned the consulate of Saudi Arabia posted Noorah’s $100,000 bail on September 9, 2016, and he had been under Close Street Supervision ever since.

In December 2018, newly released photos from 2017 showed a black SUV that helped Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah escape house arrest and flee to Saudi Arabia.

On Saturday, Trippett said she can understand why the Saudi government would want to host the tournament in Oregon. But she feels it is a slap in the face for them to host the tournament in the same area where Fallon Smart was killed since justice has yet to be served.

“I just want to have them to respect our justice system, and the protections of our citizens and of our children so that no other mother has to lose a child in the street, or grandmother have to watch her child grieve for the rest of her life.”

Ricky Freeman, who owns the SunStone Rescue Ranch, said he dedicated his property to provide a place for people to peacefully protest the LIV Golf tournament — as well as providing a voice for those who have lost theirs.

He said Smart’s death and the LIV Golf tournament are both “a big injustice.”

“It’s very overwhelming to sit here and watch,” Freeman said. “When I turn around and look behind me now and see the lines of cars that are coming and going out of there it makes me think ‘Do you know what happened there?'”


Branden Grace wins LIV Golf’s first US tournament


(AP) — Branden Grace won LIV Golf’s first stop on American soil, an event that drew critics and protestors alike because of the upstart series’ funding by Saudi Arabia.

Grace closed with a 7-under 65 on Saturday to finish at 13 under in the 54-hole tournament at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club. The 34-year-old South African won $4 million.

The fledgling LIV series, fronted by CEO Greg Norman and funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, aims to challenge the PGA Tour. It has lured some players, including Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson, with the promise of big signing bonuses, hefty prize purses and fewer events.

Grace beat Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz by two strokes.

“Played flawless golf, played really, really well when I needed to do something special and came up and managed to pull it out,” Grace said. “But just what a great day, it was amazing to come here, this new format, this new everything is amazing and everybody here is having a blast.”

Ortiz, ranked No. 119 in the world, shot a 69. Johnson (71) finished four back with Patrick Reed (67).

The 48-man field in Oregon competed for a $20 million purse, with an additional $5 million prize fund for a team competition. There was no cut and even the last-place finisher earned a payday of $120,000. Charl Schwartzel won the tour’s inaugural event outside of London (and the team portion) and pocketed $4.75 million.

The Four Aces team, led by Johnson, won the team competition at Pumpkin Ridge.

Dustin Johnson watches his tee shot on the seventh hole during the second round of the Portland Invitational LIV Golf tournament in North Plains, Ore., Friday, July 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)

LIV Golf also announced Saturday that English player Pat Casey has joined the series. Casey, 44, has won three times on the PGA Tour and 15 times on the European Tour, and is ranked No. 26 in the world. He has not played a tournament round since March because of injuries.

The PGA Tour has responded to the upstart tour by suspending every active member who competed in the first LIV event. Those who played in Oregon were also suspended unless they resign their tour memberships.

LIV Golf has been dogged by criticism since its inception, well before it came to tiny North Plains, about 20 miles west of downtown Portland.

The city’s mayor and 10 fellow mayors from nearby communities wrote the course’s Texas-based owner weeks ago, objecting that the event did not align with community values because of Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses, including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

A group of families whose loved ones were killed by the terrorist attack on Sept. 11 came to North Plains on the tournament’s opening day to protest the event. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on that day in 2001 were Saudi citizens. The group plans a more sizeable demonstration for the next stop at Bedminster in New Jersey.

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon called out the tour for “sportswashing” to detract from Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. Wyden pointed to the 2016 hit-and-run death of 15-year-old Fallon Smart in Portland. A Saudi national was accused in the case but vanished before trial, and U.S. officials believe he was spirited out of the country with the help of the Saudi government. A protestor at the entrance on Friday held a sign that read “Fallon Smart, 2000-2016.”

Pumpkin Ridge LIV Golf tournament met with more opposition
Mike Allen held a sign with Fallon Smart’s name outside of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tournament at Pumpkin Ridge. Smart was killed in a hit and run in 2016 on Hawthorne Boulevard. The driver, Abdularahmen Sameer Noorah, was arrested and charged with manslaughter. KOIN 6 News found the Saudi consulate paid his $100,000 bail and the U.S. Government believes the Saudi regime helped him escape to that country. June 1, 2022 (KOIN).

The players faced tough questions before the tournament about their involvement, with most reciting pat answers and maintaining that golf can be a “force for good.” Others complained about the structure and grind of the PGA Tour.

LIV Golf touts that it’s “golf, but louder.” In addition to the simultaneous team competition, the tournaments feature shotgun starts, interactive fan activities and hip-hop blaring on the driving range.

Crowds on Saturday were better than Thursday and Friday. LIV Golf said it was a sellout, but would not reveal the number of tickets sold.

The tour’s next event is set for July 29-31 at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster. Casey is expected to join at that time.