Despite a history of political tension, the European Tour event in Saudi Arabia still attracted a host of American and European golf stars.

In the third match in February 2021, Saudi International gathered three champions in the traditional major quartet of Dustin Johnson (Masters), Bryson DeChambeau (US Open) and Shane Lowry (The Open Championship). The award also recognized the presence of Phil Mickelson – the major winner of the 44 PGA Tour title collection, and Patrick Reed – the 2018 Masters champion.

The European star team has seven Ryder Cup players, including Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Henrik Stenson. These are the faces in the squad that won the US at the 2018 Ryder Cup in France. The most surprising case in Saudi International this year was Paul Casey.

Casey refused to attend Saudi International the first year because he did not want to be famous.  Photo: USA Today

Casey refused to attend Saudi International the first year because he did not want to be famous. Image: USA Today

Right at the opening of 2019, Casey confirmed that he would not compete. He also cited that his cane bag has the name of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) sponsor, so it is natural to sit out. On the sheet Independent In the UK afterward, Casey also said he would have a reputation for “dumb prince” if he received remuneration to play at Saudi International.

The golfers attending the 2019 award were criticized for being paid a fee to emerge from Saudi Arabia’s money and to speak in favor of the host government. At that time, Tiger Woods was said to reject $ 3.3 million in remuneration while some of the top 10 stars in the world received no less than $ 1 million, Garcia alone earned about $ 640,000.

The European Tour stage in Saudi Arabia was born in a sensitive context. It appeared on the international map three months after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This is the character who spoke out against the successor Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the newspaper Washington Post. He was later killed inside the Saudi consulate located in the Turkish capital Istanbul. Prince Bil Salman is accused of having ordered the killing of Khashoggi.

At that time, Dustin Johnson confirmed that he went to the tournament, not in support of the host government. “I am a golfer, not a politician,” explains the golfer. Johnson won the opening year, finished second in his second year.

Last year, Mickelson also dropped the Waste Management Phoenix Open of the PGA Tour to go to Saudi International. He was “stoned” by public opinion for ignoring “intestinal events” in Arizona. At that time, two events took place in parallel. This year too, with the match schedule from February 4 to 7, 2021. The Middle East prize at the Royal Green Golf & Country Club with a $ 3.5 million prize fund, but is said to have a very high entry fee. The US event at TPC Scottsdale Stadium in Phoenix City has a prize fund of $ 7.3 million.

For European golfers, Saudi International is an opportunity for them to find tickets to the Ryder Cup 2021 through the world rankings. This European qualification process has been frozen since March this year by Covid-19 and will be reopened early next year.

“Saudi International has a lot of strong players, so the bonus points will be high. Therefore, I want this tournament to run for the European Ryder Cup. This year is too weird with the epidemic so we are looking forward to starting. fresh next year, “Poulter won five times in the match against America.

Quoc Huy Generalp

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