Golf usually isn't all that complicated for Dustin Johnson. He decides where he's going to play and tries to post the lowest score.
The newest addition to his schedule involved a little more than that.
The American is among several of golf's biggest stars who are scheduled to play the Saudi International at the end of the month.
Johnson and Masters champion Patrick Reed were among the first to sign up last April for the European Tour event, long before Saudi Arabia came under even greater scrutiny over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
He will be joining a field that features Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau – that makes four of the top five players in the world ranking – at Royal Green Golf and Country Club on January 31.
RIGHT: Tiger Woods has been a regular in the Middle East in the past but is skipping the Saudi International. PHOTO: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.
“I’m going over there to play a sport I’m paid to play. It’s my job to play golf,” Johnson said.
“Unfortunately, it’s in a part of the world where most people don’t agree with what happened and I definitely don't support anything like that.
“I’m going to play golf, not support them.
“I’m not a politician. I play golf.”
He also said it might have been a tougher decision if not for so many other players taking part.
The Saudi International will also feature the past two Masters champions – Reed and Sergio Garcia –and former Open Championship winner Henrik Stenson.
“I think any time we're trying to grow the game and expose the game in a positive way, that's what we're trying to do,” DeChambeau, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour last year, said.
It's not all goodwill, of course.
The purse is US$3.5 million though the primary income for these players is appearance money, likely to be in the US$1m range for some.
That’s common for some European Tour events, especially early in the year in the Middle East, which hosted its first golf tournament in Dubai in 1989 and now has six.
Among those not going are Tiger Woods and Paul Casey, who is an ambassador for UNICEF, with the logo on his golf bag.
“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,” he said.
“I thought I'd sit this one out.”