Tommy Fleetwood explains reasons for playing Saudi event

Tommy Fleetwood

European Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood has outlined his reasons for taking part in this year's Saudi International. 

The world No.40 is one of a host of big names to have signed up for the event, which begins on February 3.

However, it has proved controversial as the tournament is no longer on the DP World Tour schedule but is instead the flagship event of the Asian Tour.

PGA Tour bosses had been reluctant to allow members exemptions to participate in the event, reportedly only doing so if they commit to playing in the AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach in the future.

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Fleetwood has now laid out his reasons in an interview with the No Laying Up podcast.

“There were two things that are the biggest things that pull guys to play,” said the 30-year-old.

“There’s no secret that a lot of people are getting paid handsomely to go. People get paid to play events throughout the year in many, many different places so that’s not a new concept at all, but you are getting paid well to go and play.

“The other thing is that when you look at the entry list and you know who’s going and who wants to play, it’s going to be one of the highest world ranking events in the world of golf and you don’t want to miss out on that.

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“That was my reasoning for wanting to go and play.”

The event has also attracted controversy because of Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights, with the country having faced allegations of ‘sportswashing’.

However, although Fleetwood said he understands the strength of opinion on the issue, he described it as “just another event”.

“I get it and that’s what makes the world go round - people’s thoughts and opinions and beliefs,” he said.

“You can’t expect people whose job it is to go out there make a living to bypass an event, because that’s their opportunity and their way of making a living on those tours.

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“I would never tell anybody not to have an opinion. I’m going there with 150 other players to go and do my best in that event.

“You’re getting paid to play which is a good thing for you and your family, and when you get there it’s just another event and everybody just gets on with it, does their own thing and then you’re in another event the next week.”

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