Charles Howell III dodges human rights issues in Saudi Arabia

It may come as a surprise to most golf fans, but Charles Howell III was always destined to join LIV Golf.

Despite his “wonderful 22 years on the PGA Tour” which spanned 608 events and netted the 43-year-old over $42 million with just three wins, Howell was ready for a change. Additionally, he idolizes the leader of LIV.

“Greg Norman was my hero when I was little. I mean, every year at the Masters and Augusta, I looked forward to going there and seeing Greg Norman play,” said Howell, a native of Augusta, in Georgia. “Man, he was an idol. I had a life-size cardboard cutout of Greg in my room during the Spalding days. He was just the man.

Howell is one of the latest players to put his talents to use on the Saudi Public Investment Fund-backed rookie circuit and will make his debut this week at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster. Asked about human rights issues in the Kingdom during the pre-event press conference with fellow LIV recruits Jason Kokrak and Paul Casey, Howell admitted that although he had never been to Saudi Saudi Arabia, he was “excited to go”.

“As a sports fan, I believe sports can be a force for good and change,” Howell said, citing a topic frequently used by players to deflect tough questions from the media. “Example in Saudi Arabia, Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1 driver, speaks on these issues. We are talking about these issues right now and today. This is the first stage of change.

Howell actually neglected to take that first step and didn’t say a single word about Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, gay people facing capital punishment or women’s rights, despite being explicitly asked to s speak on these same issues during the press conference.

Instead, he added, “I believe golf can, will and is a force for change and good, and that’s why I’m sitting here.”

Speaking of Formula 1, the race in Saudi Arabia in March this year was almost canceled after a missile strike hit Jeddah just 10 miles from the track. The drivers had a four-hour meeting on the Friday before the race and discussed a boycott, but ultimately moved on with the weekend’s events.

While Howell is looking forward to visiting Saudi Arabia and traveling more abroad with his family, Hamilton was eager to get out.

“I’m so happy the weekend is over” said Hamilton, a seven-time world champion in the sport who wore the Progress Pride flag on his helmet when he won the inaugural race in the Kingdom in 2021. “I’m so happy everyone is safe, I just can’t wait to go out. I just want to go home.”

Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP prepare to drive during the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on December 05, 2021 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

“Of course, I’m relieved (to have spent the weekend),” added another pilot Lando Norris. “It’s a nervous place and you’re going to get those nerves.”

Like the rest of his colleagues, Howell exaggerated the excitement of the tag team event and downplayed the millions of dollars in guaranteed money as the reason for his decision to join LIV, going so far as to say, “No, the money doesn’t wasn’t a factor. ”

“I still love the game. I love the game more now than I did five years ago. Now that my son is playing competitive golf, I’m even more motivated in the game,” Howell said. It’s something really new and exciting.