While no big names have yet withdrawn from tournaments that are part of the European Tour’s upcoming swing through the Middle East, golfers and agents are keeping an eye on the situation in light of escalated tensions between the United States and Iran.
President Trump addressed the nation Wednesday after Iran launched more than a dozen missiles at airbases in Iraq housing U.S. troops. The action is viewed as retaliation by Iran for a U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani last week.
The situation has raised questions regarding the safety of players planning to compete in the European Tour’s events in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia later this month.
Sergio Garcia said he is planning to play next week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and the following week in Dubai.
“If I feel like it will be safe to go there, I will be there,” Garcia told Golfweek on Wednesday. “I’m gathering information.”
World No. 1 Brooks Koepka will make his 2020 debut in Abu Dhabi after skipping the Presidents Cup and the PGA Tour’s events in Hawaii. Also in the field are Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Tommy Fleetwood and Shane Lowry, who won the tournament in 2019.
DeChambeau’s participation in the Abu Dhabi field came into question over comments he made during a Twitch session on Tuesday. “I seriously may not be going to Abu Dhabi,” DeChambeau said, according to a Golf Channel report. “All this talk, no American is able to go over to that area. Insane, brother. Protecting the country, though, I love it. Gotta love it.”
Dustin Johnson is scheduled to play in the Saudi International beginning Jan. 30, where he is the defending champion. “We remain committed, but will continue to closely monitor any developments in the region,” said David Winkle, Johnson’s agent.
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The European Tour has said it will proceed with tournament plans but is monitoring the situation in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, according to a statement released to the Guardian.
“The safety of our players, staff and everyone involved in all our tournaments around the world remains our top priority. The European Tour constantly monitors situations in all our host countries, taking advice from the relevant agencies where appropriate, and we will continue to do so.”