Four of the world’s five best golfers will compete in the European Tour’s new desert destination event in Saudi Arabia that starts on Thursday, but the tournament has already thrown up uncomfortable questions for the sport. European Tour CEO Keith Pelley announced a three-year partnership with the kingdom in 2018 aimed at expanding the boundaries of golf in the Middle East. But the $3.5m event, which will be staged in King Abdullah Economic City, has split opinion in the golfing world. The Saudi regime is under intense international criticism after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018. The kingdom has also been trying to shake off its ultra-conservative image, but the reform push has been accompanied by a crackdown on dissents, including the arrests of women’s rights activists, clerics and intellectuals. English golfer Paul Casey confirmed last week that he will skip the event because of Saudi Arabia’s “human rights violations”. Tiger Woods, a 14-times major winn...

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