Former world number one in golf, Tiger Woods, said Tuesday that he would not participate in the Saudi International tournament, scheduled from January 30 to February 2 in Saudi Arabia.
“I just don’t want to go there,” Woods explained on ESPN. “It’s too long a journey.”
Woods had already refused last year to participate in this tournament, despite an estimated $3 million (EUR 2.7 million) in a context then marked by the murder on October 2, 2018 of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
But he nevertheless defended the right of other players who would like to enter this competition, while several golfers, including Phil Mickelson, have been the subject of strong criticism on social networks after confirming their participation in the Saudi tournament.
“It’s not worthy of you to accept money from a corrupt regime. Come on Phil, you’re better than that,” commented one Internet user on Twitter. To which Mickelson simply replied:”I can’t wait to play and see a country I’ve never been to”, even if”I understand those who are shocked or disappointed”.
For his part, Woods said he was aware of the political issues behind such a tournament, but he also believes that this type of event can also contribute to the development of golf in Saudi Arabia.
In recent years, the ultra-conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia has relied on sport to improve its international image. It has already hosted the Italian Super Cup and organised an Electric Formula race in particular. It will also host the World Heavy Vehicle Championship on December 7 between American-Mexican Andy Ruiz Jr and British Anthony Joshua, then the Dakar Rally for the first time in January 2020.