The European Tour makes its debut in Saudi Arabia this week in the final event of its desert swing.

However, the fact the tournament is taking place at all, and has managed to lock down a number of high-profile players, has divided the golfing world.

That’s due to a number of factors, including the country’s human rights record as well as the murder of journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, last year.

First, let’s take a look at some of those who will be absent, beginning with the biggest name of them all…

Tiger Woods

Saudi Arabia

The cat has played all over the globe throughout his illustrious career, but he could not be convinced that Saudi Arabia was right for him.

Woods was reportedly offered more than £2.5 million as an appearance fee, and could also have taken home a good portion of the $3.5million prize pot.

His reasoning behind turning down the invite have not been discussed by the man himself – perhaps it was to do with politics or morals, or simply due to him not wanting to jeopardise his health again at a crucial point in his golfing life.

Paul Casey

As one of the stars 2018 Ryder Cup, Casey was originally expected to take part in the tournament.

However, in a recent Instagram post, he declared himself out of the event and it is believed this is largely due to those human rights issues and his links to the charity UNICEF.

Brandel Chamblee

The American had his say in an NBC Golf debate.

He is firmly against the idea of the event going ahead and also believes players should not be participating.

There was one quote that really stuck out.

He said the players would be “ventriloquists for an abhorrent regime” by appearing.

Strong words indeed.

What do those playing think?

Justin Rose

The world number one hit back after Chamblee’s comments, saying “I’m not a politician, I’m a pro golfer.”

A valid point, but many still think players are making a political statement whether they intend to or not.

Ernie Els

The Big Easy has not said too much about his decision to play but, when he did, he focused on the country’s vision for golf’s future.

He said: “I’ve spent some time getting to know a little bit about the Kingdom’s plans to accelerate golf development and I’m privileged to be a part of it.”

Eddie Pepperell

In typical Pepperell fashion, the Englishman posted about the event on Twitter…

Of course, this is social media, so there are some who did not see the funny side of the tweet. This prompted the world number 39  to express his views in a more in-depth form on his blog.

In the post, he said:

“It clearly is true that Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is questionable at best, and appalling to anyone in the West. But should that mean we boycott competing?”

“The problem with taking a moral approach to us golfers playing in Saudi Arabia this week is that it would lay bare many contradictions of the past. Like, for example, why do we play in China? Or Qatar? Or Turkey?”

In all honesty, Pepperell poses some good points in his piece, it’s worth a look.

This tournament has truly split opinion like no other in recent years, and it will be fascinating to see how the week pans out.

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