Tiger Woods Cites Busy Schedule in Declining to Play in Saudi Invitational, Defends Mickelson’s Decision to Play

Tiger Woods has declined to play in the upcoming Saudi Invitational golf tournament early next year, citing one of the busiest tour schedules for the Master’s champ in recent years, and defended the decision by Phil Mickelson and others to play.

Woods said that he understood that the decision could be difficult for some athletes, but noted that sports have a way of bringing people together and to help “heal.”

“I understand the politics behind it,” Woods said at a news conference. “But also the game of golf can help heal a lot of that, too. It can help grow it. And also a lot of top players are going to be playing there that particular week.”

“It’s traditionally not a golf hotbed, the Middle East,” Woods said. “But it has grown quite a bit. I remember going to Dubai for my very first time and seeing maybe two or three buildings in the skyline. Now there is a New York City skyline. Again, golf has grown. There were only a few courses when I went to Dubai and now they’re everywhere. Same with Abu Dhabi, and maybe eventually in Saudi Arabia.”