Shane Lowry defends playing in Saudi International: ‘I’m not a politician, I’m a professional golfer’

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·2-min read

Shane Lowry knows there will be plenty of controversy surrounding the Saudi International when he competes in the event next month.

He’s just not going to deal with any of it.

“Look, obviously there’s no hiding from the people writing about this tournament or what they’re saying about us going to play, but at the end of the day for me, I’m not a politician,” Lowry said Tuesday, via Golfweek. “I’m a professional golfer … I’m happy to go there.

“I’m happy to earn my living going there and going and playing good golf and hopefully win a tournament. I think for me as a golfer, I’m not a politician, I’ll let everyone else take care of that, and I’ll go and do my job.”

PGA Tour granted release for Saudi International

The PGA Tour, after months of digging in, reversed course and said last month that it would allow golfers a release to play in Saudi Arabia next month.

The only catch is that golfers have to commit to play at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in the next several years. Lowry is one of several golfers who wanted a release for the Saudi International — as that event is no longer part of the DP World Tour, formerly the European Tour, and is now part of the Asian Tour.

Saudi Arabia made a $100 million investment in that Tour last year. The Saudi International is now funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Along with a conflict of interest, given the Saudis' attempts to start their own Tour in recent years, many view the country’s hosting of this and other major sporting events as an attempt to cover up its human rights abuses.

“I would have been very disappointed if I didn’t get the release,” Lowry said, via Golfweek. “I wasn’t surprised that we all did. I think it was something that they had to do. For years, as long as I’ve been not even playing golf but watching golf, players, top world-class players have been going around playing on the Asian Tour and doing stuff like that, so I don’t think this is any different.”

Lowry has won twice on the PGA Tour, most recently at the British Open in 2019. He also won the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship that year. The 34-year-old had four top-10 finishes on Tour last season, with his best finish coming at the PGA Championship, where he finished T4.

Lowry has played three times this season, though has yet to tee off in 2022.

Shane Lowry of Ireland
Shane Lowry said he isn't going to get into any of the controversy surrounding the Saudi International. (Mateo Villalba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
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