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PGA Tour Pivots, Says Players Can Compete in Saudi International

  • The PGA Tour announced it has granted waivers for 30 players, including Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, to compete in the Saudi International.
  • The decision goes against the PGA Tour’s own rules.
Saudi International/Design: Alex Brooks
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The PGA Tour announced it has granted waivers for 30 players, including Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, to compete in the Saudi International on Feb. 3-6 — the same week as the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. 

The decision goes against the PGA’s own rules, which state players can’t play in a tournament during the same week as a PGA event. 

It also gives the commissioner the right to deny a request that it would “harm the PGA Tour and its partners” – especially if it would violate a sponsor agreement.

  • This year, the Saudi International has a prize purse of $5 million – a major increase from last year. 
  • The Pebble Beach Pro-Am has a total purse of $8.7 million.

Players will be allowed to compete in the Saudi International on one of two conditions.

If a player has attended the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in the last five years, they need to commit to attending again in one of the next two events. If a player hasn’t competed in the event, they have to commit to playing twice in the next three years.

In its release, the PGA Tour noted that the decision is “not precedent setting.” 

Political Controversy

Attending the Saudi International could serve up political controversy given the Saudi Arabian government’s human rights record, which has received criticism from the international human rights community.

The government also has plans to give $200 million to the Greg Norman-led Asian Tour, which could threaten the PGA Tour’s dominance.

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