Eddie Pepperell has emerged as one of golf’s most outspoken and thoughtful players.
After getting heat on social media for an attempt at a joke making light of this week’s European Tour event in Saudi Arabia, Pepperell took to his blog to offer a more thoughtful response to the dilemma that faces many of the game’s top players this week, including four of the top-five ranked players in the world.
“I considered responding on Twitter but 240 characters obviously isn’t enough when it comes to the topic of suffering and humor,” Pepperell wrote. “It clearly is true that Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is questionable at best, and appalling to anyone in the West. But should that mean we boycott competing?”
“The problem with taking a moral approach to us golfers playing in Saudi Arabia this week is that it would lay bare many contradictions of the past. Like, for example, why do we play in China? Or Qatar? Or Turkey?
“Depending on your time scale, you could argue that every country on earth has at some point exemplified the worst that human beings have to offer, but back to 2019. It clearly is true that Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is questionable at best, and appalling to anyone in the West. But should that mean we boycott competing?
“That probably depends who you are. I can really only speak for myself, and plus, remember I’m not being paid to be here, so I’m only slightly less immoral than the top guys who have showed up.
“For me, if I didn’t play, I sacrifice the opportunity to play against the best in the world, I miss a chance to improve my world ranking also, which objectively speaking, does hold some importance for me, since if I fall out of the Top 50 before April then I won’t be eligible for a PGA Tour event I have scheduled to play. And that means losing flights etc and having to pay for new ones, which you might say is no problem because I’ve earned a lot of money lately, though resentment isn’t good for anybody.”
The Saudi International will begin on Thursday at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club. Pepperell will be in joined in the field by Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stensson, Patrick Reed and others.