Paul Casey has revealed he has turned down the opportunity to play in the European Tour’s inaugural event in Saudi Arabia next week because of “human rights violations” and insists he never signed a contract to play in the kingdom.
Four of the world’s top five – including another Englishman in Justin Rose – are receiving appearance fees to compete, with Tour chief executive Keith Pelley adamant that, even in the wake of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi Arabia embassy three months ago, the £2.5 million tournament will still go ahead.
But Casey, who was originally listed as a confirmed entry, has decided to stay away. “There were a lot of questions,” Casey said. “Do I want to go to Saudi? That was the main question. There are a lot of places in the world that I have played and continue to go, which you could question … some human rights violations that governments have committed… I thought I’d sit this one out.”
Insiders estimate that Casey, who is a Unicef ambassador, would have received up to £300,000 simply for teeing it up, but yesterday he was at pains to stress that he will not appear at the Royal Greens Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City, billed as the largest privately-funded new metropolis in the world.