Lee Westwood defends request to play in Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series opener

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Westwood has defended the request to play in the Saudi-backed event (Getty Images)
Westwood has defended the request to play in the Saudi-backed event (Getty Images)

Lee Westwood has responded to criticism over his decision to request to play in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series next month.

The 49-year-old Englishman has become the latest player to reveal his intention to play at the Centurion Club from June 9-11.

He has requested releases from both the DP World Tour and PGA Tour in order to play in the tournament - the first of eight scheduled events this year.

But players have been widely criticised for their decision to play in the events due to Saudi Arabia’s poor human rights record.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Westwood responded: “We’ve played European Tour in Saudi Arabia and I’ve had releases from the PGA Tour to say I can play in Saudi Arabia, so it has been no problem to them in previous years.

“Formula One raced there. Newcastle United are owned partly by people from Saudi Arabia. There has been boxing there and I think there has been snooker and darts there as well.

“Golf’s not the first sport to have links with Saudi Arabia, but it seems to be coming under more scrutiny than anyone else. Whether you think that’s right or not is the individual’s opinion.

“I think Saudi Arabia obviously know they’ve got issues. I think lots of countries around the world have got issues and I think they’re trying to improve. They’re trying to do it through sport, which a lot of places, a lot of countries do.

“I think they’re doing it a lot quicker than some countries have tried to do it and that maybe worries or scares people. People don’t like change do they, they like continuity and things to stay the same.”

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