Thirty golfers received permission Monday from the PGA Tour to compete in the high-paying but controversial Saudi International with some specific conditions.
The Saudi International is scheduled for Feb. 3-6, the same week as the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Last month, Saudi event organizers announced several commitments for 2022, including defending champion Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia and many other high-profile PGA Tour players.
However, those players were required to receive waivers from the tour to play in Saudi Arabia. According to a memo sent to Tour members, the waivers were approved but players who don’t play at Pebble Beach in 2022 will be required to play the event once or twice in the coming years. It will depend on how many times those players have appeared at Pebble Beach in the past five years.
Players who don’t comply with the future requirements will face discipline.
The Saudi International is sanctioned by the Asian Tour, but Saudi Arabia has made enemies within the PGA Tour because of Saudi financial backing to try to launch a rival tour known as the Super Golf League.
Further, critics say the Saudi International is part of a larger trend of “sportswashing,” in which a country uses prestigious sporting events to improve its image on the world stage and gloss over human-rights abuses.