Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy both TURN DOWN huge Saudi Arabia deals

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy refuse big bucks to play in the 2020 Saudi International...

Andy Roberts's picture
Wed, 4 Dec 2019
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy both TURN DOWN huge Saudi Arabia deals

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have both turned down lucrative deals to play in the controversial Saudi International on the European Tour next month. 

McIlroy has reportedly turned down a whopping $2.5 million appearance fee to compete in the tournament, while Woods' figure was in the region of $3 million

"I just don't want to go over there," said Woods, who is hosting this week's Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. "It's a long way."

An insider for McIlroy's refusal told The Telegraph: "It doesn't matter what they'd offered, Rory was going to say no anyway."

It would have marked McIlroy's biggest ever appearance fee to play in a golf tournament. 

Reports claim that following both Woods and McIlroy's refusal to compete in the Saudi International, tournament organisers decided to put their efforts into attracting Phil Mickelson with a lucrative appearance fee that remains undisclosed. 

And it clearly worked. 

Mickelson, 49, was slaughtered on social media when revealing on Sunday evening that he was going to compete in the Saudi International instead of tee it up in the Phoenix Open, a tournament which he has previously played in the last 27 consecutive years. 

The news came as a shock to many in the golf world, especially as Mickelson spent much of his younger golfing years playing at TPC Scottsdale when part of the Arizona State golf team, and he had openly expressed in the past how much the event means to him. 

In total, Mickelson has played in the Phoenix Open on 30 occasions. 


Despite refusing to compete in the tournament, Woods admitted he could understand Mickelson's reasons for playing. 

"I understand the politics behind it, but also the game of golf can help heal a lot of that, too," said Woods.

"It can help grow it. And also a lot of top players are going to be playing there that particular week. It's traditionally not a golf hotbed, the Middle East. But it has grown quite a bit."

Mickelson has since responded to his critics, by saying: "After turning down opportunities to go to the Middle East for many years, I'm excited to go play and see a place in the world I've never been. I understand those who are upset or disappointed. You'll be ok. I'm excited to experience this for the first time." 

The inaugural Saudi International received plenty of consternation as it fell a few months after the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who had spoken out against Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Washington Post columns.

The US resident was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul after agreeing to meet there.

It led to a huge outcry from golf fans and the industry at larger who were ashamed to see so many of the world's best players aligning in Saudi Arabia while picking up huge pay packages to compete in the European Tour tournament.

World No.1 Brooks Koepka and defending champion Dustin Johnson have also agreed to compete in the 2020 Saudi International, and will reportedly pick up somewhere in the region of $1 million for making the trip. 

Sergio Garcia has also committed to play, despite being disqualified for "serious misconduct" when tearing up several putting greens in frustration during the inaugural 2019 tournament. 

Garcia, has however, refused his tournament appearance fee this time around in a bid to seek some sort of forgiveness for his actions at the Royal Greens Golf Club. 

The prize fund for the Saudi International is $3.5 million, with the winner taking home more than half a million.

The 2020 tournament will be played from January 30 to February 2.