Before the recent Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, Keith Pelley was quizzed on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive as to whether he thought it “prudent” for his European Tour members to be playing in Saudi Arabia.
The reasons for the query had to do with reports of Saudi government involvement in the murder of a Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, as well as a human-rights record in the kingdom that many Westerners find hard to take. According to Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia executed more people in 2017 than any country other than China and Iran while, to give another example of what many find unacceptable, it long has been customary for girls of 10 or younger to be sold into marriage.
The European Tour’s CEO, while certainly aware of these facts when the question came up, would maybe have found it easier to reply with a counterquestion. Namely, what would PGA Tour officials have done in the same circumstances? Would they have cancelled the event?
In this day and age, the different tours are understandably proprietorial about the places they play. They know that if they take their eye off the ball another tour will step in and Pelley, for one, cannot afford for that to happen. Especially in the case of the Middle East, where the rich tapestry of customs and cultures add such a compelling dimension to his European circuit.
No longer ago than 1975, three great writers of the day – Herbert Warren Wind, Peter Ryde and Donald Steel ...
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