By Andrew Wright published
After months of speculation, the DP World Tour has granted a number of its members permission to play in the Saudi International.
The event, which is now the headline act of the Asian Tour, boasts enticing appearance fees for players and recently named Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) as its title sponsor.
Initially, players from both sides of the Atlantic were threatened with suspensions and possibly even bans should they tee it up in Jeddah for February’s tournament. However, that stance has since softened as golf’s two leading circuits instead opted to keep their prize assets happy with the threat of breakaway tours still looming large.
A statement posted on the DP World Tour website read: "The DP World Tour has granted conditional releases to a number of players who have requested to play in conflicting tournaments the Singapore Open, from January 20-23, 2022 and the Saudi International, from February 3-6, 2022.
"Consequently, the Tour has now granted releases in respect of all the requests it received, which are specific to the individual member concerned and their particular circumstances.
"This decision is not precedent setting and requests from any member for a release for a future conflicting tournament will continued to be evaluated individually in accordance with the Members’ General Regulations Handbook."
The action taken by what was formerly known as the European Tour mirrors that of the PGA Tour, in that it is not to be considered "precedent setting," while it is also understood that conditions must be met relating to future events.
Among the Europeans on the official Saudi International entry list are Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton, Shane Lowry, Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood. Also included is Henrik Stenson, a potential candidate for the 2023 European Ryder Cup captaincy.
This latest news will be a further shot in the arm for LIV Golf Investments, the start-up company spearheaded by Greg Norman and also backed by Saudi’s PIF. As part of the venture, more than $200 million has been sunk into the Asian Tour in a deal that will see ten new annual events added to the schedule for the next decade.
In addition, Norman and co. hope to convince some of the game’s big names to join the Super Golf League, a big-money breakaway tour that will guarantee mega paydays as well as the opportunity for players to create their own team-based franchises. Rumours have already circled of offers in the region of $50m, although nobody has officially signed up yet.
The Saudi International takes place from February 3-6 on the Royal Greens course in Jeddah and features a star-studded line-up. Dustin Johnson returns to defend his title and he will be joined by a host of fellow major champions, including Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, as well as the current Olympic champion Xander Schauffele.
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