Tiger Woods has turned down the largest overseas golf tournament payday of his career, The Telegraph reports.
Woods was offered £2.5 million, which converts to more than $3 million, to play in the European Tour’s inaugural event in Saudi Arabia next year. He said no to the Saudi International, according to the report.
Saudi Arabia embroiled in turmoil after murder of journalist
The event is sponsored by the Saudi government, which is under international scrutiny since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the country’s consulate in Istanbul.
Turkish officials concluded that Saudi agents awaited Khashoggi and killed him inside the consulate, removing his head and fingers in the process. Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was a frequent critic of Saudi leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
No word from Woods on Saudi tournament
Woods has not spoken publicly about his reported decision, and there was nothing in The Telegraph report addressing why he turned down the tournament.
He has traveled the world for international paydays in the past, but it’s not unreasonable to conclude that he wants to limit these kinds of events as he gets older and focuses on winning major titles.
The tournament is scheduled a week after the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines near San Diego, a tournament that’s a regular part of his schedule
But there’s no denying that the tournament presents a public relations minefield.
Prominent athletes, entertainers pull out of Saudi Arabia
Athletes and entertainers have pulled out of recent events in Saudi Arabia amid backlash against the country’s government.
Professional wrestling star John Cena did not participate in a WWE showcase event last week that was arranged in coordination with the Saudi Arabian government.
Roger Federer turned down an invitation to play a tennis match in Saudi Arabia in December.
“I prefer not to play,” Federer told reporters. “I’m happy practicing. I’m happy doing other things, and I didn’t want to play there at that time. So, for me, it was a very quick decision.”
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are scheduled to participate in the exhibition.
European Tour defends hosting Saudi tournament
European Tour director Keith Pelley recently addressed concerns over hosting the tournament in Saudi Arabia with reporters.
“Like many global companies we monitor situations like this,” Pelley said, per Golf Digest. “So we have looked at the viability of the golf tournament. I can simply say that the Saudi International is on our schedule for 2019. I really have nothing more to add than that. The Middle East is very important to the European Tour.”
The tournament is scheduled to take place from Jan. 31-Feb. 3.