Lee Westwood is risking a Ryder Cup ban if he plays in a Saudi rebel event. He broke his silence and admitted that he has applied for release. Westwood decided to accept Saudi's advances and get what could possibly be a record payday.
“If I’d told those mates that I grew up playing within Worksop that I've been given an opportunity to play in a tournament, a 48-man tournament for $25 million, they would probably pull me to one side and say ‘what is it you're actually thinking about?’,” Westwood said.
“This is my job. I do this for money. It's not the only reason for doing it, but if anybody comes along and gives any of us a chance at a pay rise, then you have to seriously consider it”. When asked if he feared his Centurion involvement would lead to a ban, he said “Why should it?” The European Tour has no problem with me being a PGA Tour member, so this is just another tour..”.
“This is being portrayed as us and them, whereas the people from LIV Golf have said that they want to stand side-by-side,” he said. “They are not going up against any of the really massive tournaments. They want everybody to be able to play and have options.
They are not forcing anybody's hand, so I believe… “I don't think it's a case of fairness. I think it's a case of whichever authority is feeling whatever they do is right. I've supported The European Tour for 29 years.
I've never been driven by playing on the PGA Tour like a lot of the guys have. My goal has always been to be a European Tour member. I've hosted events on this tour and obviously played wherever I can through Covid and stuff like that.
“I've always tried to support the European Tour as much as I can. I've asked for releases for tournaments for as long as I've been on Tour. I’ve asked for many, but I’ve not heard anything back yet.
The ball is in the European Tour's court”.
Westwood never asked for a release to play on UK soil.
“Well, Saudi Arabia money is in all different sports, isn't it, now, whether it be football or F1,” he said.
“The first time I ever played in Saudi Arabia was on The European Tour [in 2019]. So they had no problem with where the money came from. And the PGA Tour gave releases to their players to play the Saudi event this year.
So they have no problem with where the money comes from. “I think Saudi Arabia is trying to become more westernized and make changes quickly, and that's probably worrying and scaring a lot of people. But they are just trying to improve, aren't they? People give it different names, but I'm of a belief that sport and politics shouldn't mix, as we have seen it doing in Wimbledon tennis, with the Russian players not being allowed to play there.
I happen to disagree with what, as a lot of people do. I've seen Rafael Nadal come out about it. It all comes down to opinions at the end of the day, doesn't it?”