Padraig Harrington hopes staging a European Tour event in Saudi Arabia can be a “positive force” after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi focused attention on the country’s regime.
The European Tour announced in March that it will stage an event in Saudi Arabia for the first time in 2019, a decision confirmed when the full schedule was released on Monday.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are also due to play a lucrative tennis exhibition in Jeddah in December and Harrington believes the Tour’s decision to go ahead with the tournament is not a “black or white” issue.
“It’s a difficult decision, I’m sure it was not taken lightly,” Harrington said ahead of this week’s Turkish Airlines Open. “The European Tour, like a lot of people, are trying to build relationships around the world and looking to move forward.
“If we went back 50 years in any of our societies we needed to open up so it’s not 100 per cent clear, it’s not a black or white question or answer to say are we helping or not. Let’s hope we are.
“I’ve played a lot of golf in different countries and if you started to get down to the nitty gritty at times you’d go ‘well there have been questionable places we’ve gone to’.
“Let’s hope it’s a step forward rather than backwards. I think the European Tour have taken the attitude at this stage they can be more of a positive force than a negative one.”
Source : HeraldScotland