‘Players Would Be Mad Not To Take Saudi Millions’ - Tony Jacklin

The two-time Major winner thinks players should have the right to cash in on the rumoured Saudi Golf League

‘Players Would Be Mad Not To Take Saudi Millions’ - Tony Jacklin
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Golf legend Tony Jacklin has offered his opinion on the rumoured Saudi Golf League, suggesting he couldn’t blame players if they accept lucrative offers to take part. Jacklin had a hugely successful career in the game, winning the Open in 1969 and the US Open the year after. He also captained Europe’s Ryder Cup team between 1983 and 1989. However, writing in The Telegraph, Jacklin said that, despite his success, he’s not a millionaire and that golfers should be free to accept whatever money they are offered – as long as it’s legal.  

“I now live off social security here in the US. I have no other income so somebody like Greg [Norman] comes along with a novel idea backed by the billions of a Kingdom, and, from my point of view, it doesn’t matter where the finance comes from. You can be holier than thou and say it’s been procured from countries with terrible human rights records. But the European Tour has recently been renamed the DP World Tour, and that is from oil money as well.

“If somebody wants to pay a golfer $20m or $30m to turn up 14 times around the world to play in a three-round event in a Super Golf League, then he or she should be entitled to do it wherever the funds come from, so long as the money is not deemed ‘illegal’. If someone offered me $2m to play in a tournament, I wouldn’t say, ‘I don’t want your filthy money.’ I’d be on the next plane thinking how my family could benefit. Politics certainly wouldn’t come into my decision-making process."

Jacklin’s comments echo those of Jason Kokrak, who recently said he’d be interested in joining such a league if it comes to fruition. However, the rumoured league is hugely controversial, largely because of concerns over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. Another worry is that any league would disrupt the PGA Tour and DP World Tour. On the latter issue, Jacklin acknowledges that things could soon get complicated: “The PGA Tour and DP World Tour have a monopoly on the game right now and they obviously don’t want to let that go. So we are heading into a very complex, messy situation.”

Nevertheless, Jacklin thinks any disruption could be worth it, saying: “I like the concept of the SGL, especially the fact it will be condensed into four hours. Golf is in the entertainment business. It could work, could be a huge success.” However, Jacklin’s main concern is with the players, and he thinks the rumoured league could be just what’s needed to hand more power to them: “I would suspect the very least the players will get out of this is finally to find out whether they are or are not independent contractors, whether they can do what they want, when they want. Ultimately, the pros will benefit.”

Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

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.