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Home Sports Lee Westwood confirms he wants to play on Saudi-backed rebel golf tour

Lee Westwood confirms he wants to play on Saudi-backed rebel golf tour

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Lee Westwood intends to play at the Centurion Club next month (Picture: Getty)

Lee Westwood says he has asked to be released from the PGA and DP World Tours so he can play in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series in June.

The new tour led by two-time Open champion Greg Norman is set to get underway at the Centurion Club in St Albans next month with a $25 million purse up for grabs.

However, golfers wishing to compete in the event must ask the PGA and DP World Tours for permission amid warnings of lifetime bans.

Last month, the Telegraph reported that Westwood along with Ian Poulter, Bubba Watson and Kevin Na were close to signing up to the breakaway tour and the Englishman has now confirmed those reports.

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He told Sky Sports: ‘I’ve put a release in with the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour, as many people have. That’s kind of the stage we’re at and anything after that is just ifs and buts and speculation.

‘It’s an opportunity to play in a big tournament, against some of the best players in the world, in England. I love playing in England in front of home fans, so any time there’s an opportunity like that I feel like I should take it.

‘I am an independent contractor. I work for myself. This is my job. I do this for money.

Phil Mickelson is a big supporter of the LIV Golf Invitational Series (Picture: Getty)

Despite the possibility of being excluded from golf’s best events in Europe and America, six-time major champion Phil Mickelson has heavily backed LIV Golf’s new tour.

But the American has been criticised for his support of the Saudis considering their poor record on human rights and in February took a break away from golf after suggesting he was prepared to overlook the state’s misdemeanors in order to further his career.

Westwood believes Saudi Arabia is trying to change the way it is perceived by the western world and pointed to other sporting events being staged there in recent years.

He added: ‘We’ve played European Tour in Saudi Arabia and I’ve had releases from the PGA Tour to say I can play in Saudi Arabia, so it has been no problem to them in previous years.

‘Formula One raced there. Newcastle United are owned partly by people from Saudi Arabia. There has been boxing there and I think there has been snooker and darts there as well.

‘I think Saudi Arabia obviously know they’ve got issues. I think lots of countries around the world have got issues and I think they’re trying to improve. They’re trying to do it through sport, which a lot of places, a lot of countries do.’

British Masters winner Richard Bland has also requested to play at St Albans in the LIV Golf Invitational Series which has eight events scheduled this year with a total prize money of $225 million.

MORE : Phil Mickelson’s comments ‘hurt’ my Saudi-backed tour, says Greg Norman

MORE : ‘Nobody has done more’ – Jon Rahm defends Phil Mickelson’s impact on golf amid Saudi tour criticism

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