‘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 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.