'not a politician' | 

Shane Lowry defends decision to play controversial Saudi International

'I earn a living for myself and my family and try and take care of those, and this is just a part of that, and I need to go there'
Shane Lowry. Photo: Tom Russo/Sportsfile

Shane Lowry. Photo: Tom Russo/Sportsfile

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

Former British Open champion Shane Lowry has said “I’m not a politician I’m a golfer”, as he defended his decision to play in next month’s controversial Saudi International.

Addressing the media ahead of the tournament, which will be played at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club from February 3 – 6, the Irishman added: “I am earning a living for myself and my family.”

There have been allegations of “sportswashing” of Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuse through the event that features a star-studded field and a $5million prize fund that has been increased from $3.5million in 2021.

Lowry was asked about a recent editorial in the Washington Post on a conference call promoting the event, that said players who participate in the Saudi International are “accepting blood money".

He replied: “Look, obviously there's no hiding from the people writing about this tournament or what they're saying about us going to play, but at the end of the day for me, I’m not a politician, I’m a professional golfer.

“I earn a living for myself and my family and try and take care of those, and this is just a part of that, and I need to go there – like I’ve seen a few quotes from Tommy Fleetwood recently where he said about the World Ranking points available there, there's no doubt we’re all getting looked after going there.

“The top players are looked after going there, and that’s great, but top players have got looked after all over the world over the last number of years, whether it be whatever country they go to.

“But I'm happy to go there,” he added. “I'm happy to earn my living going there and going and playing good golf and hopefully win a tournament. I think for me as a golfer, I'm not a politician, I’ll let everyone else take care of that, and I'll go and do my job.”

The Saudi International, which is running opposite of the PGA Tour's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, was part of the European Tour the last three years but is now a flagship event on the Asian Tour.

As a result payers have had to seek releases from the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, formerly the European Tour, in order to compete at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club next month.

A number of players have made multi-year commitments to appear in the event, including Lowry who agreed to a three-year contract to play in the Saudi International after winning the 2019 British Open at Royal Portrush.

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