Report: Tiger Woods turns down lucrative offer to participate in Saudi Arabia tournament
It doesn't look like Big Cat will be going to the Middle East next season
Tiger Woods has reportedly turned down over $3 million to play in next year's Saudi International, the last in a string of three Middle East events on the European Tour. The event follows the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and Dubai Desert Classic, and is part of a solid opening part of the calendar year for the European Tour.
James Corrigan of The Telegraph noted that Woods was offered 2.5 million pounds -- equivalent to a little over $3 million in U.S. dollars as of Nov. 8 -- to play the event. Woods has certainly gone overseas to play in tournaments like this before, but he has eschewed that massive number for 2019.
In the past, Woods has travelled to such countries as China and the United Arab Emirates. Yet it is understood he deemed Saudi Arabia to be an excursion too far - even for at least £2.5m - an amount that apparently dwarfs anything he has received before for an official overseas tournament.
There is a lot going on here, obviously, as Saudi Arabia has been in the news for all the wrong reasons of late due to the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. European Tour CEO Keith Pelley responded to that news and the reality that a golf tournament on his tour is taking place there in two months.
"Like many global companies we monitor situations like this," Pelley told 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."
So there's that, although it may or may not have factored into Tiger's decision. The other thing with Tiger is that last time he went to the Middle East to play one of these events, the 2017 Dubai Desert Classic, he withdrew before the second round, which led to his spinal fusion surgery a few months later. Transatlantic flights are notoriously unkind to bad backs, and there's not really much reason for Woods, who was phenomenal in 2018, to risk his body in the short-term -- even for a big payout like this one.
Still, that's a pretty crazy number that is possibly the biggest Woods (or anyone!) has ever been offered. It's clear the Middle East is serious about continuing to draw big boy fields, which they've already established in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Woods' Ryder Cup teammates, Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed, are both currently in the field for the 2019 Saudi International.
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