Rory McIlroy: World number two turned down Saudi Arabia event offer
Rory McIlroy has ruled out competing in next month’s European Tour event in Saudi Arabia, despite being offered a large appearance fee.
World number one Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson are among big names who will be in action at the Saudi International in late January.
“It’s just not something that would excite me,” the Northern Irishman told the Golf Channel on Monday.
McIlroy did not deny reports that he had been offered a $2.5m (£1.9m) fee.
Amnesty International describes the Saudi regime’s human rights records as “heinous” but the country has been attempting to lure big sporting events to the kingdom, notably last Saturday’s world heavyweight boxing title fight between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr in Riyadh.
“100%, there’s a morality to it as well,” added McIlroy about his decision to miss the event, which takes place from 30 January until 2 February.
“You could say that about so many countries, not just Saudi Arabia, but a lot of countries that we play in that there’s a reason not to go, but for me, I just don’t want to go.”
The four-time major winner conceded that he had watched Saturday’s Joshua-Ruiz bout on television, but added that his tournament appearances in the early part of 2020 will be confined to PGA Tour events.
“I think the atmosphere looks better at the events on the west coast [of America] and I’d much rather play in front of big golf fans and play in a tournament that really excites me,” McIlroy explained.
American Tiger Woods, the 15-time major winner, revealed last week that he had turned down an offer to play in the Saudi event.