Cape Town - Phil Mickelson took to social media on
Monday to defend his recent commitment to play in the European Tour's
upcoming Saudi International event in Saudi Arabia.
Mickelson is far from the only major golfing star to confirm his
attendance at the upcoming event, with the likes of Dustin Johnson (the
defending champion), world No 1 Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau, Patrick Reed,
Shane Lowry, Henrin Stenson and Sergio Garcia all accepting appearance
fees as well.
Many feel that the world's top golfers should not be playing in Saudi
Arabia due to the country's questionable human rights record, as well
as the government's alleged involvement in the murder of journalist
Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
Mickelson's first statement on his attendance sidestepped any
controversy, with the five-time major champion saying: "I watched Dustin
win the title last year and thought the course looked like an
"Having so many talented players on show also made it look like a
much more established tournament than one in its inaugural year. I have
enjoyed my previous visits to the Middle East and am looking forward to
playing in a new country and doing my bit to grow the game in the
Hours later, as criticism of Mickelson's decision intensified, the
American took to Twitter to say he "understand(s) those who are upset or
"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," Lefty wrote.
The Saudi International takes place from January 30-February 2, the
same week as the Phoenix Open, which Mickelson has religiously attended
for years, but he reckons there's a "good chance" that he has made his
last appearance at TPC Scottsdale.
"Given that I turn 50 this year, there's a good chance I've played my
last Phoenix Open. We'll see," he wrote in response to a question from a