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03rd Jul 2022

Paul Casey joins Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series, despite previous ‘hypocrite’ comment

Simon Lloyd

Casey previously pulled out of an European Tour event in Saudi

Paul Casey has become the latest high-profile golfer to join the Saudi-backed LIV Series.

The 44-year-old said he was “excited” at the prospect, and expects to make his series debut later this month at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster.

A number of golf’s top names – including Casey’s former Ryder Cup team-mates Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell – have signed up to the breakaway circuit in recent weeks.

In doing so, they have had to field tough questions on playing in a series funded by a gulf kingdom accused of serious human rights violations, which has repeatedly drawn criticism from, amongst others, Amnesty International.

paul casey liv golf saudi

Casey withdrew from Saudi event in 2019

Casey’s decision to join has been met with surprise given his previous stance towards Saudi’s links to his sport.

In 2019, the Englishman, a UNICEF ambassador, withdrew from the European Tour’s maiden event in Saudi Arabia, citing concerns over the country’s human rights abuses and, in a later interview, the war in Yemen. He was widely praised for his actions.

“It just didn’t sit well with me,” he explained during an interview with The Independent in March of that year.  “I’ve not talked too much about it and I’m not sure I want to, but certainly signing a deal and being paid to be down there, I would be a hypocrite if I did that.

“Anybody who says sport isn’t political, that’s rubbish, sport is very political and we’ve seen it through the years. I’m glad I took a stance, more so if it highlighted the issues within the region, especially next door in Yemen.”

Two years after that, Casey’s stance had clearly softened as he signed up to the 2021 event, saying he believed he had got it wrong with his snub in 2019.

Despite the PGA Tour’s decision to ban those involved with LIV, it was announced last month that players from the breakaway series will be permitted to compete in the 150th Open at St Andrews later this moth.

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