Tiger Woods decided not to play the European Tour’s inaugural Saudi International based on a desire to limit his travel, the 14-time major champion said.
“I haven’t really played a lot overseas and I turned the opportunity to go to Saudi Arabia down last summer,” Woods told reporters on the eve of the US PGA Tour’s Genesis Open.
The tournament and players who opted to go were criticised because of the country’s human rights record, and especially the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate in June.
Woods said his decision had nothing to do with politics, saying it was made “well before anything had transpired”.
“I just think, I’m trying to keep the travelling down to a minimum and just focus on our tour,” Woods said.
The European Tour’s first tournament in Saudi Arabia attracted four of the world’s top-five ranked players, led by world number one Justin Rose of England.
Meanwhile, American Dustin Johnson returned to No 3 in the world thanks to his victory at the Royal Greens Golf Club in King Abdullah Economic City, where he defeated China’s Li Haotong by two strokes.
By Olukayode Oniwinde