The pair turned down a combined $5.5m in appearance fees to tee it up in the Saudi International according to reports

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McIlroy And Woods Turn Their Backs On Saudi International

It’s a momentous week for sport in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the high-profile World Heavyweight Championship rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jnr in Diriyah.

With the country having secured what is arguably the biggest fight in boxing, the Saudi International has failed to secure the two biggest stars in golf after both Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods turned down huge appearance fees to tee it up in the tournament’s second playing.

Woods, for the second year in a row, turned down somewhere around the $3m-mark and McIlroy turned down $2.5m, according to the Telegraph.

An insider said: “It doesn’t matter what they’d offered, Rory was going to say no anyway.”

The $2.5m appearance fee would have been Rory’s biggest-ever, but it wasn’t enough to persuade him to leave his PGA Tour pursuits with his schedule almost certainly going to be US-only until the end of May for the Irish Open.

Tiger Woods also said no to what would have been the biggest appearance fee of his career.

“I just don’t want to go over there,” the 15-time Major winner said. “It’s a long way.”

The event takes place between 30th Jan-3rd Feb at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club with defending champion Dustin Johnson returning alongside World No.1 Brooks Koepka.

Another massive name confirmed is Phil Mickelson, who will be making his Saudi debut after not playing the 2019 tournament.

Mickelson was brought in after Woods and McIlroy said no, and Lefty was criticised on social media for accepting the invite.

His decision to play means that he is missing the Phoenix Open for the first time in 30 years after playing in the event as a student whilst at Arizona State University.

“After turning down opportunities to go to the Middle East for many years, I’m excited to go play and see a place in the world I’ve never been. I understand those who are upset or disappointed. You’ll be ok. I’m excited to experience this for the first time,” he said.

Tiger Woods was asked about Mickelson’s decision to tee it up in Saudi, with the 15-time Major winner saying, “I understand the politics behind it.

“But also the game of golf can help heal a lot of that, too. It can help grow it.

“And also a lot of top players are going to be playing there that particular week.

“It’s traditionally not a golf hotbed, the Middle East. But it has grown quite a bit.”

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