McIlroy And Woods Turn Their Backs On Saudi International

The pair turned down a combined $5.5m in appearance fees to tee it up in the Saudi International according to reports

McIlroy And Woods Turn Their Backs On Saudi International

The pair turned down a combined $5.5m in appearance fees to tee it up in the Saudi International according to reports

McIlroy And Woods Turn Their Backs On Saudi International

It's a momentous week for sport in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the high-profile World Heavyweight Championship rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jnr in Diriyah.

With the country having secured what is arguably the biggest fight in boxing, the Saudi International has failed to secure the two biggest stars in golf after both Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods turned down huge appearance fees to tee it up in the tournament's second playing.

Woods, for the second year in a row, turned down somewhere around the $3m-mark and McIlroy turned down $2.5m, according to the Telegraph.

An insider said: “It doesn’t matter what they’d offered, Rory was going to say no anyway.”

The $2.5m appearance fee would have been Rory's biggest-ever, but it wasn't enough to persuade him to leave his PGA Tour pursuits with his schedule almost certainly going to be US-only until the end of May for the Irish Open.

Tiger Woods also said no to what would have been the biggest appearance fee of his career.

“I just don’t want to go over there,” the 15-time Major winner said. “It’s a long way.”

The event takes place between 30th Jan-3rd Feb at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club with defending champion Dustin Johnson returning alongside World No.1 Brooks Koepka.

Another massive name confirmed is Phil Mickelson, who will be making his Saudi debut after not playing the 2019 tournament.

Mickelson was brought in after Woods and McIlroy said no, and Lefty was criticised on social media for accepting the invite.

His decision to play means that he is missing the Phoenix Open for the first time in 30 years after playing in the event as a student whilst at Arizona State University.

"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," he said.

Tiger Woods was asked about Mickelson's decision to tee it up in Saudi, with the 15-time Major winner saying, “I understand the politics behind it.

“But also the game of golf can help heal a lot of that, too. 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.”

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Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news team as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as five Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays off of a six handicap. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H1

Irons: Mizuno MP5 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV