Thu, 28 Jan 2021

In change of heart, Casey will play at Saudi Invitational

Field Level Media
29 Nov 2020, 09:41 GMT+10

Nearly two years after publicly questioning human rights practices in Saudi Arabia, Paul Casey has decided to play in the 2021 Saudi Invitational alongside some of the biggest names in golf.

Players already committed to next year's event include Masters champion Dustin Johnson and U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau. Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton, Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Patrick Reed and Henrik Stenson also are scheduled to play, according to GOLF.com.

"This is not a decision I've taken lightly," Casey said in a statement reported by Golf Channel as he expressed his desire to play in the next Saudi Invitational. "I wasn't comfortable going in the past, but I have always been open-minded and willing to learn.

"I believe sport has the power to affect change. I've listened to the Saudi commitment to this and their vision for the future. It is always better to include rather than exclude when eliciting change."

As the 2019 Saudi Invitational approached, the Saudi government was awash in criticism after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Both Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy declined an invitation to the inaugural event. Casey, a native of England, turned down a chance to play as well.

"There are a lot of places in the world that I have played and continue to go, which you could question ... some human rights violations that governments have committed," Casey said at the time. "I thought I'd sit this one out."

A hopeful for the European team at the 2021 Ryder Cup, Casey is just 47th in points to qualify. A strong showing at a competitive Saudi Invitational would help his Ryder Cup cause.

Casey, 43, is a three-time winner on the PGA Tour and a 14-time winner on the European Tour. He tied for second at the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.

--Field Level Media

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