LIV Golf International Series: Lee Westwood feels golf under more scrutiny than other sports over Saudi-backed golf series Golf News

Westwood: “Formula One raced there. Newcastle United are owned partly by people from Saudi Arabia. There’s been boxing there and I think there’s been snooker and darts there as well. Golf’s not the first sport to have links with Saudi Arabia.”

Last Updated: 05/05/22 8:38 am

Lee Westwood says many players have requested a release from the PGA Tour and DP World Tour to play in the new Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series

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Lee Westwood says many players have requested a release from the PGA Tour and DP World Tour to play in the new Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series

Lee Westwood says many players have requested a release from the PGA Tour and DP World Tour to play in the new Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series

Lee Westwood has defended his decision to request to play in the LIV Golf Invitational Series next month and believes golf has been scrutinized more than other sports for their links to Saudi Arabia.

Westwood is becoming the latest player to confirm their intention to tee it up at the Centurion Club from June 9-11, the first of eight scheduled events in 2022, having requested releases from both the DP World Tour and PGA Tour.

“We’ve played European Tour in Saudi Arabia and I’ve had releases from the PGA Tour to say I can play in Saudi Arabia, so it has been no problem to them in previous years,” Westwood told Sky Sports News ahead of the British Masters.

Lee Westwood expects to feature in the LIV Golf Invitational Series at the Centurion Club next month

Lee Westwood expects to feature in the LIV Golf Invitational Series at the Centurion Club next month

“Formula One raced there. Newcastle United are owned partly by people from Saudi Arabia. There has been boxing there and I think there has been snooker and darts there as well.

“Golf’s not the first sport to have links with Saudi Arabia, but it seems to be coming under more scrutiny than anyone else. Whether you think that’s right or not is the individual’s opinion.

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“I think Saudi Arabia obviously know they’ve got issues. I think lots of countries around the world have got issues and I think they’re trying to improve. They’re trying to do it through sports, which a lot of places, a lot of countries do.

“I think they’re doing it a lot quicker than some countries have tried to do it and that maybe worries or scares people. People don’t like change until they, they like continuity and things to stay the same.”

Matthew Southgate sees merit in the Saudi-backed golf tour, arguing the guaranteed income would appeal to him

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Matthew Southgate sees merit in the Saudi-backed golf tour, arguing the guaranteed income would appeal to him

Matthew Southgate sees merit in the Saudi-backed golf tour, arguing the guaranteed income would appeal to him

Reigning British Masters champion Richard Bland told the media ahead of his title defense at the Belfry he has requested to feature next month, with Westwood also relishing the opportunity to compete on home soil.

“I’ve put a release in with the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour, as many people have,” Westwood added. “That’s kind of the stage we’re at and anything after that is just ifs and buts and speculation.

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May 5, 2022, 1:30 pm

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“It’s an opportunity to play in a big tournament, against some of the best players in the world, in England. I love playing in England in front of home fans, so any time there’s an opportunity like that I feel like I should take it . “

Phil Mickelson’s agent revealed last month the six-time major winner has requested a release from the PGA Tour to play the first event in June, with Robert Garrigus among others seeking permission to also be part of the 48-man field.

After PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said the tour was about 'legacy and not leverage' after rumors of a Saudi-backed golf league, Jaime Diaz looks at what golf needs to keep the fans interested

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After PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said the tour was about ‘legacy and not leverage’ after rumors of a Saudi-backed golf league, Jaime Diaz looks at what golf needs to keep the fans interested

After PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said the tour was about ‘legacy and not leverage’ after rumors of a Saudi-backed golf league, Jaime Diaz looks at what golf needs to keep the fans interested

Previous media reports suggested any player involved with the Saudi-backed circuit may risk any hopes of captaining Europe’s Ryder Cup side in the future, although Westwood said he played no part in his decision to compete.

“That ball is in the European Tour’s court,” Westwood admitted. “I have no influence over the way they think. I am an independent contractor. I work for myself, it’s my job, and I have to do what’s right for me.”

Lynch: Westwood has announced himself as a willing stooge

Golf journalist Eamon Lynch was critical of Westwood’s action and comments during an appearance on the Golf Channel.

“We know what the players are interested in here, it’s money, it’s not really anything more complicated than that,” Lynch said. “But let’s be clear about what the Saudis are interested in here, it’s using golf to normalize the state, to normalize all of their abuses and distract from them.

Golf Channel's Eamon Lynch says Westwood is complicit in sports-washing after requesting to be released from the PGA Tour to play in the first Saudi-backed golf event.

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Golf Channel’s Eamon Lynch says Westwood is complicit in sports-washing after requesting to be released from the PGA Tour to play in the first Saudi-backed golf event.

Golf Channel’s Eamon Lynch says Westwood is complicit in sports-washing after requesting to be released from the PGA Tour to play in the first Saudi-backed golf event.

“For that, they need two things, money – of which they have plenty – and willing stooges, of which Lee Westwood has just announced himself to be one.

“When he says Formula One and Premier League soccer have taken the money, that’s sports washing in evidence right there. That’s the point of sports washing, so that the next guy they try to buy off to pay for his conscience will say, ‘well somebody else has taken the money so why shouldn’t I? ‘

‘I was really struck by whenever he said of the Saudi Arabian regime,’ they know they have issues, they’re trying to improve. ‘ Well perhaps one way Lee Westwood could help his buddies improve is telling them not to execute 81 people in one day, stop firing missiles at civilians in Yemen, but Lee Westwood wants to take a check to play a golf tournament, and then say he’s somehow contributing to the improvement of the lives of people in Saudi Arabia, which it is not.

“He’s right, every other county has issues too, but they’re not all trying to use golf to distract from those issues.”

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