Rory McIlroy has turned down an invitation to compete at next month’s European Tour event in Saudi Arabia.
He’s not on his own, however, as 15-time Major champion Tiger Woods revealed that he also turned down the chance to compete in the second-ever Saudi International.
McIlroy refused to deny that he had been offered a €2.5m offer to play the tournament which has attracted top stars such as Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson.
However, McIlroy told the Golf Channel that is was never something that excited him while also claiming there was a moral decision involved due to Saudi Arabia’s reputation on a global scale with the country’s human rights record described as “heinous” by Amnesty International.
“It’s just not something that would excite me.
“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. 100 per cent, there’s a morality to it as well. I think the atmosphere looks better at the events on the west coast [of USA] and I’d much rather play in front of big golf fans and play in a tournament that really excites me.”
The country did play host to one of the biggest sporting events of 2019 just last weekend when Anthony Joshua reclaimed his heavyweight titles following a unanimous decision victory of Andy Ruiz Jr in Riyadh.
And while McIlroy did highlight the moral issue with playing in Saudi Arabia, he did admit hypocrisy having watched Saturday’s huge heavyweight clash and cheering on Joshua.
“Again, I’m no different. I had no problem watching the world heavyweight title fight there this weekend. I had no problem watching that and cheering on AJ, and all that sort of stuff,” McIlroy said.