Thursday, May 5, 2022

Rose warns players not to ‘take a risk’ joining a Saudi-backed golf series

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Justin Rose has warned his fellow golfers about the risk of participating in the new Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series, as well as the other established tours.

Several players have already requested releases from both the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour to attend the inaugural tournament at Centurion Club in early June – the first of eight events scheduled this year.

Rose has confirmed he will not be attending any of the events in 2022. But the 41-year-old doesn’t judge any of the players who take the opportunity either.

The former world number one told Sky Sports: “I won’t (play in the LIV Golf Invitational series), not this season, not anytime soon.

“I am, like everyone, curious to see how this plays out and I think no less (of the players who are hoping to play). I have no judgment on that. I played golf in Saudi Arabia.

“You have to make choices that are right for you. You’re a professional golfer, it’s your job. If there is an opportunity and it is valid, then it is a path that should be open and available to you.”

He was then asked if it was risky for players to play in both the Saudi-backed league and the other tours.

To which he replied: “That is the eternal question to which no one knows the answer. That’s the risk these guys are taking right now by taking the opportunity to play. We don’t know how the tours will react or the legal ramifications.

“My goals are still the big championships. I’m still trying to write my own story within the game of golf. For example, I’m not willing to play golf just for money.

“I have other goals and other dreams and they’re supposed to play in big championships and win big championships. I will now do everything to protect that.”

Golfers have been widely criticized for their decision to attend the events due to Saudi Arabia’s poor human rights record.

Earlier this week, Lee Westwood became the youngest player to apply to be released from the DP World and PGA tours.

Explaining his decision, he said: “We played in Saudi Arabia on the European Tour and I got press releases from the PGA Tour to say I can play in Saudi Arabia, so for them it was in the past years no problem.

“Formula 1 raced there. Newcastle United is partially owned by people from Saudi Arabia. There was boxing and I think there was also snooker and darts.

“Golf isn’t the first sport to have ties to Saudi Arabia, but it seems to be coming under more scrutiny than any other. Whether you think this is right or not is the opinion of the individual.

“I think Saudi Arabia obviously knows they have problems. I think a lot of countries around the world are struggling and I think they’re trying to improve. They try it through sports, which many places, many countries do.

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

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