Tiger Woods has reportedly rejected a mammoth fee to appear in the European Tour’s inaugural Saudi International in January.
According to a report in The Telegraph, Woods turned down $2.5 million to travel to the Middle East for the event, a sum that dwarves anything he has received before for an official overseas tournament.
It is unknown whether Woods’ refusal to play in the event was due to the current political situation in Saudi Arabia following the state’s murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Istanbul or if he is limiting his long-haul travel after his most recent trip to the Middle East.
Woods put the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in his schedule in 2017 but withdrew after the first round due to back spasms. He soon underwent a fourth back surgery and didn’t play again until ten months later at the Hero World Challenge.
Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Paul Casey have already been snapped up to play in the government-sponsored event and, had Woods agreed to tee it up, it would have undoubtedly triggered a backlash.
The European Tour has been criticised for standing by the event in the wake of announcing its 2019 schedule two weeks ago, with chief executive Keith Pelley ‘monitoring the situation’.
Speaking to reporters at last week’s Turkish Airlines Open, he said: “I’ll be very, very clear. Saudi International is on our schedule and we’ll continue to monitor just like we would do with every other country.
“We have heard some of the criticism of the region. Obviously freedom of speech is far more available now based on social media. We’ve listened and we will continue to monitor the situation.”