The worlds of sports and politics, despite the wishes of fans from either spectrum, intersect on a professional level nearly every day.
While those crossovers generally result in red-faced arguments for both sides, golf’s inclusion into the debate with next week’s Saudi International on the European Tour began with a sit-down roundtable discussion on Golf Channel’s Sunday edition of Morning Drive.
Gary Williams moderated as Matt Adams, Brandel Chamblee, Brian Bateman and Jaime Diaz navigated the choppy waters of sports and politics coexisting.
Naturally, it was Chamblee whose opinion resulted in the most headlines as he roundly disparaged the professional golfers who are willing to accept an appearance fee and play in Saudi Arabia this week.
Chamblee began his piece by complimenting the European Tour, and in particular, its media operation, which led him to admonish the atrocities that have taken place in the region with respect to other members of the media under the authority of the regime in power.
“A more definitive personal rebuke can be shown to the P.R. stunt of this regime, which is really just trying to hoodwink the West, by not participating, by refusing to participate,” Chamblee said. “Your participation in some way enriches this regime. And by nonparticipation of the athletes, in general, you can in some marginal way — and I applaud Paul Casey (for skipping the event) — make a statement about human rights.
“Whether the European Tour knows it, and whether the players know it, by participating, they are ventriloquists for this abhorrent, reprehensible regime.”
While Casey and Tiger Woods have both turned down large sums of money to play in Saudi Arabia next week, the winner at Torrey Pines, Justin Rose will be there, along with the likes of Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johsnon, Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia and Patrick Reed.
Asked after his win at the Farmers Insurance Open, Rose answered questions about his participation.
“I’m not a politician, I’m a pro golfer,” Rose said, according to GolfChannel.com. “There’s other reasons to go play it. It’s a good field, there’s going to be a lot of world ranking points to play for, by all accounts it’s a good golf course and it will be an experience to experience Saudi Arabia.”