Report: Woods turned down lucrative appearance fee for Saudi event
Tiger Woods has reportedly turned down a seven-figure appearance fee to participate in the European Tour’s foray into Saudi Arabia in January.
According to a report from the U.K.’s Telegraph, Woods was offered “at least” 2.5 million pounds, which would equate to more than $3.25 million and “apparently dwarfs” any previous offer Woods has received to play in an overseas event. Unlike the PGA Tour, the European Tour allows tournament organizers to offer appearance fees in order to court high-profile players. Players currently expected to play in the Saudi International include Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Paul Casey.
But Woods won’t be a part of the tournament debut in Saudi Arabia, an event whose position on the European Tour calendar has recently come under question following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Turkey.
“We have heard some of the criticism of the region,” European Tour chief Keith Pelley told reporters at last week’s Turkish Airlines Open. “Obviously freedom of speech is far more available now based on social media. We’ve heard, we’ve listened and we will continue to monitor the situation.”
Woods’ reason for declining the seven-figure payday is unknown. The tournament will be held Jan. 31-Feb. 3, the week after the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open which typically serves as Woods’ first start of the new year. In 2017, Woods played in Dubai the week after Torrey Pines but withdrew after just one round, citing back spasms.
A GolfChannel.com request for comment from Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg was not returned.
Woods is coming off a resurgent season, capped by a win at the Tour Championship and Ryder Cup appearance. He will face Phil Mickelson in an exhibition match in Las Vegas Nov. 23 and is expected to return to competition the following week at the Hero World Challenge, an unofficial event he annually hosts in the Bahamas.