Miami (AFP)

Former world number one golf, Tiger Woods, said Tuesday he would not participate in the Saudi International tournament, scheduled from January 30 to February 2 in Saudi Arabia.

"I just do not want to go out there," Woods told ESPN. "It's a long trip"

Woods had already refused last year to participate in this tournament, though with a payout estimated at $ 3 million (EUR 2.7 million), in a context then marked by the assassination on October 2, 2018. journalist Jamal Khashoggi, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

But he has nevertheless defended the right of other players who would like to engage in this competition, while several golfers, including Phil Mickelson, have been the subject of strong criticism on social networks after confirming their participation in the Saudi tournament.

"It's not worthy of you to accept the money from a corrupt regime ... Go Phil, you're better than that," said a Twitter user. To which Mickelson simply replied: "I can not wait to play and see a country I have never been to," even if "I understand those who are shocked or disappointed".

For his part, Woods said he was aware of "the political stakes behind" such a tournament, but he also believes that such events can also help develop golf in Saudi Arabia.

In recent years, the ultra-conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia relies on sport to improve its image internationally. He has already hosted the Italian Supercup and organized a Formula Electric race in particular. It will also host the world heavyweight championship on December 7 between American-Mexican Andy Ruiz Jr and Britain's Anthony Joshua, then the Dakar rally for the first time in January 2020.

© 2019 AFP