Saudi International lures other stars with huge inducements
Declined: By Tiger Woods, an offer of approximately $3 million to play the European Tour’s 2020 Saudi International, according to a report by ESPN.com’s Bob Harig. “I just don’t want to go over there,” Woods said. “It’s a long way.” Woods also reportedly declined a similar offer to play in the inaugural event, which fellow American Dustin Johnson won earlier this year. Appearance fees are banned by the PGA Tour. Woods, 43, won the Masters this year and later tied Sam Snead’s PGA Tour all-time victory record, at 82. The inaugural Saudi International, at which Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman played a prominent role, was heavily criticized after the 2018 death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudi national, a prominent critic of the kingdom’s rulers who was based in the U.S. and wrote for The Washington Post, was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. U.S. intelligence officials linked the slaying to the Saudi government, which Saudi officials denied. Saudi officials reportedly have paid seven-figure appearance fees, luring players such as Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed and, just recently, Phil Mickelson (“In other golf news,” Dec. 2). Mickelson took to social media to defend his decision to play, saying: “I understand those who are upset or disappointed. You'll be OK. I'm excited to experience this for the first time.” The $3.5 million event is scheduled for Jan. 30-Feb. 2.