Published: Fri, December 06, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Woods turned down appearance fee for Saudi event

Woods turned down appearance fee for Saudi event

The tournament, which is sponsored by the Saudi government, has received criticism because of the nation's poor human rights record, and, in particular, the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the country's consulate in Istanbul, which caused an worldwide outcry.

World No 1 Koepka, who is now sidelined by a knee problem, headlines a world-class field for the Saudi International which also includes Mickelson, defending champion Dustin Johnson, Open champion Shane Lowry, Tony Finau and Patrick Reed.

Woods and Rory McIlroy are among those who do not play.

"I understand the politics behind it", Woods said. "It can help grow [the game], and also a lot of top players are going to be playing there". "It can help grow that". And also a lot of top players are going to be playing there that particular week. "It is historically not a golf hotbed within the Center East, nevertheless it has grown fairly a bit". The game of golf has grown. The government of Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is believed by the Central Intelligence Agency to have ordered Khashoggi's murder, is funding the tournament's $3.5 million prize money as well as the seven-figure appearance fees for numerous players, according to ESPN.

Mickelson's involvement in Saudi Arabia means he will miss the Phoenix Open for the first time in 30 years, prompting tournament chief Tim Woods to say he was "disappointed" in the American's decision, according to ESPN. "You'll be ok. I'm excited to experience this for the first time".

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"I am really looking forward to playing in Saudi Arabia in January", Mickelson told the Gazette.

It's probably worth noting that Woods participated in the Dubai Desert Classic in the United Arab Emirates as recently as 2017, though motivations to travel and compete can obviously change. He also played twice in Abu Dhabi. Now there is a New York City skyline. "For me, I think I can only commend their vision in terms of growing the game of golf".

Tiger Woods Design is building the Trump World Golf Club Dubai, which will open next year.

While Mickelson is not the only big-name golfer to agree to play the Saudi International - 2019 victor Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia and Tony Finau are among those who are also scheduled to compete - Mickelson's decision is the one that led to questions for Woods.

The Saudi International takes place from January 30-February 2, the same week as the Phoenix Open, which Mickelson has religiously attended for years, but he reckons there's a "good chance" that he has made his last appearance at TPC Scottsdale.

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