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- Tiger Woods ended a five-year winning drought with a resounding victory at the 2018 PGA Tour Championship.
- After his dramatic return to the winner’s circle, Woods was offered his highest ever payout to compete in a tournament overseas.
- The golf great snubbed a whopping $3.3 million paycheck to participate in the European Tour’s inaugural event in Saudi Arabia amid the outcry over the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
After his dramatic return to the winner’s circle last season, Tiger Woods was offered his highest ever payout to compete in a tournament overseas.
And he said no.
According to the Telegraph’s James Corrigan, Woods snubbed a whopping £2.5 million ($3.3 million) payday to participate in the European Tour’s inaugural event in Saudi Arabia next year. The lengthy trip to Saudi Arabia hardly seems like an obstacle that would stand in Woods’ way, especially given the astronomical payout, as he has previously competed in the United Arab Emirates and toured Asia “to help stoke local interest in the sport of golf and inspire athletes in China and Japan.”
Facilitators of the government-run tournament first approached Woods late in the summer, by which point they had already secured commitments from Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, and Paul Casey. Thomas Bjorn has since committed to participate as well. Given the fierce international outcry over last month’s death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, the tournament and many other sporting events affiliated with the Saudi Kingdom have come under fire.
The WWE faced intense scrutiny after deciding to proceed with its November 2 “Crown Jewel” show in Saudi Arabia despite acknowledging that “the company faced a very difficult decision [due to the] heinous crime committed at the Saudi consulate” the month prior.
Roger Federer, meanwhile, told Simon Briggs at the Telegraph that he rejected a seven-figure deal to play a match in the country late next month.
“I prefer not to play,” Federer said. “I’m happy practicing. I’m happy doing other things, and I didn’t want to play there at that time. So, for me, it was a very quick decision.”
Fellow tennis greats Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were both slated to compete at the event in Jeddah before it was called off due to the former’s ankle injury. Prior to the event’s cancellation, however, both players expressed their intentions to reevaluate the situation as it approaches.
“It’s terrible that one journalist lost their life,” Nadal said. “I know something happened very bad inside there. So we are looking about how the situation evolves and I hope the things will clarify as soon as possible.”
Djokovic weighed in a few hours later:
“I’m aware of what’s happening, and it’s sad, of course. I’ve been always trying to be very professional and respectful towards people that I have commitments with. We have to get more information on what’s happening so we can make a rational decision whether it’s good to go or not.”