World No.1 Justin Rose has tried to steer clear of political controversy at his Saudi International pre-tournament news conference, saying he was not qualified to speak on subjects other than golf in "great detail or authority".
The European Tour is holding its first event in Saudi Arabia against a backdrop of criticism over the choice of venue in the wake of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October and the kingdom's human rights record.
Rose said the players who taking part were there to support the European Tour's attempt to grow the sport in the Middle East.
"It's never straightforward, is it, but I think that obviously we're here to support The European Tour," the Englishman told reporters.
"For me, I think I can only commend their vision in terms of growing the game of golf.
"I'm not qualified to speak on any other subjects to be honest with you in great detail or authority. Between now and 2030, there's a big push here for golf.
"Hopefully golf is a conduit to bridging the gap between this region and how we perceive golf in the western world." – Justin Rose
"Hopefully golf is a conduit to bridging the gap between this region and how we perceive golf in the western world."
The European Tour introduced the Saudi International to the schedule in November. It holds events worldwide, with some of the most prestigious being in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The 38-year-old Rose heads a strong field at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, which includes World No.2 Brooks Koepka and third-ranked Dustin Johnson.
"Hopefully golf is a conduit to bridging the gap between this region and how we perceive golf in the western world," Rose said.
"Who knows? Twenty, 30 years ago, Abu Dhabi looked somewhat similar to here and Dubai.
"We've all seen the growth and what's possible in these regions, and can only support the vision."