'I Have To Do What's Right For Me' - Westwood On Saudi League Request

The former World No.1 is the latest high-profile player to confirm his involvement in the LIV Golf Invitational Series

Lee Westwood speaks to the media ahead of the 2022 British Masters
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lee Westwood is the second high-profile player in short order to confirm he has requested a release to play in the LIV Golf Invitational Series after Richard Bland made a similar admission.

Speaking ahead of the British Masters at The Belfry, Westwood defended his decision to request the release from both the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, saying:  "People always have a problem with change and are sceptical. Change and competition are good in any walk of life." 

Former World No.1 Westwood would undoubtedly be one of the highest-profile players in a series that has caused plenty of controversy before it’s even begun, but the straight-talking 49-year-old didn’t see it is an issue. He said: “I don't think sport and politics should mix. The European Tour has been happy to play events in Saudi Arabia. The PGA Tour released players for that. It's like Wimbledon banning Russian players. For what it's worth I don't agree with that, either."

Later, Westwood expanded on his motivations. Talking to Sky Sports, he said: “It's an opportunity to play in a big tournament and some of the best players in the world, in England, you know? I love playing in England in front of the home fans. So, you know, anytime there's an opportunity like that, you know, I feel like I should take it.” Westwood then echoed the sentiments of LIV Golf frontman, Greg Norman, who has long claimed that players should be free to choose where they ply their trade. He said: “I'm an independent contractor that, you know, I work for myself. It's my job and I have to do what's right for me."

Westwood also addressed concerns about the source of the money funding the event, Saudi Arabia, saying golf and other sports haven’t had an issue with associating with the country in the past. He said: “We’ve played European tour events in Saudi Arabia. I’ve had releases from the PGA Tour saying that I can go play in Saudi Arabia. So it's it's been no problem to them in previous years. The Formula 1 race there, Newcastle’s owned partly by people from Saudi Arabia, there’s been fights there, you know, boxing fights. I think there's been snooker and darts here as well."

Finally, Westwood suggested that the country is trying to address its issues: "I think Saudi Arabia are obviously... they know they've got issues. I think you know lots of countries around the world have got issues and I think they're trying to improve, they’re trying to do it through sport, which a lot of places, you know, a lot of countries do. I think they're doing it a lot quicker than some countries are trying to do it and you know, that maybe worries people or scares people.”

As well as Bland, the World No.58 joins other players in the world's top 100 who have reportedly asked for releases to join the series. While the 48 names for the series, beginning on 9 June at London’s Centurion Club, have yet to be confirmed, The Telegraph also reported that the world’s top six amateurs have been invited, as details slowly take shape as to the probable make-up of the field.

Mike Hall
Mike Hall

Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.