Report: Tiger Woods Turned Down Around $3M to Play in Saudi International

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistDecember 4, 2019

Tiger Woods of the US tees off at the 16th hole during the final round of the PGA ZOZO Championship golf tournament at the Narashino Country Club in Inzai, Chiba prefecture on October 28, 2019. (Photo by TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA / AFP) (Photo by TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP via Getty Images)
TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/Getty Images

Tiger Woods reportedly turned down a multimillion-dollar offer to play in the Saudi International tournament in January. 

Per ESPN's Bob Harig, Saudi Arabian officials have offered Woods around $3 million in each of the past two years to take part in the event, but he has declined the invitation both times. 

"I just don't want to go over there," Woods told Harig. "It's a long way.''

The European Tour's decision to hold a tournament in Saudi Arabia has caused controversy after the murder of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in IOctober 2018.

United Nations investigator Agnes Callamard issued a report saying there was "sufficient credible evidence" that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bears responsibility for the "deliberate, premeditated execution" of Khashoggi, who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate on Oct. 2. 

Woods told Harig he understands "the politics" of the event but defended the European Tour's decision to hold an event in Saudi Arabia:

"It's traditionally not a golf hotbed, the Middle East. But it has grown quite a bit. I remember going to Dubai for my very first time and seeing maybe two or three buildings in the skyline. Now there is a New York City skyline. Again, golf has grown. There were only a few courses when I went to Dubai and now they're everywhere. Same with Abu Dhabi, and maybe eventually in Saudi Arabia."

The tournament was established in 2019 by the Saudi government, which pays the entire $3.5 million purse. Dustin Johnson won the inaugural tournament and will defend his title starting next month.

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Other players who have committed to playing in the tournament include Sergio Garcia, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed and Tony Finau. 

Woods hasn't played in a European Tour event since February 2017 when he withdrew from the Dubai Desert Classic prior to the second round. 

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