Despite rising tensions between the United States and Iran, a number of American golfers remain committed to playing the European Tour’s “Desert Swing” through the Middle East.
The United States issued a security alert last week to all Americans living in Iran to leave the country after the death of Qasem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Quds military force, after he was killed Thursday by a US drone strike in Baghdad. Additionally, the US state department advised caution when travelling to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – sites of the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, Omega Dubai Desert Classic and the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisors, all held in January – and encouraged citizens to “maintain a high level of vigilance” due to the conflict in the area.
However, this has not deterred the likes of Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau and Phil Mickelson from honouring their commitments to tournaments in the region. The European Tour confirmed to Golf Digest overnight that none of the American entrants have withdrawn or announced their intentions to do so.
Koepka, who missed the Presidents Cup due to lingering knee issues, confirmed on Monday that he will make his first start since pulling out of the CJ Cup with injury in October at next week’s Abu Dhabi Championship. The world No.1 is also scheduled to compete in the Saudi International. Johnson (the event’s defending champ) and Reed are also returning to the Saudi, while Mickelson is making his tournament debut. DeChambeau will make appearances in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The European Tour added that it is closely watching the Iran situation, and taking the necessary steps to ensure protection to players and their families.
“The safety of our players, staff and stakeholders and everyone involved in each and every one of our tournaments around the world is our top priority,” the tour told Golf Digest. “The European Tour constantly monitors what is happening in all of our host countries, taking any safety advice from the relevant agencies where appropriate, and we will continue to do so for all of our tournaments around the world.”