Golf: Rory McIlroy turns down spot in Saudi tournament

Rory McIlroy said he had no interest in playing the Saudi International tournament in late January. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Rory McIlroy confirmed on Monday (Dec 9) he had turned down the chance to play in next month's European Tour event in Saudi Arabia despite reportedly being offered a multi-million-dollar appearance fee.

McIlroy told the Golf Channel in an interview he had no interest in playing the Saudi International tournament in late January.

"It's just not something that would excite me," the Northern Irishman said, echoing comments from Tiger Woods who last week confirmed he had also rejected an approach to play in the event.

The tournament has attracted a slew of talent including world No. 1 Brooks Koepka, former US Open champion Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson.

Golfers participating in the inaugural event last year faced criticism, with the tournament taking place just months after the killing of US-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018.

Mickelson was criticised last week after announcing his decision to play in the tournament.

"You're better than taking the money grab from a corrupt regime," wrote one commenter on Twitter. "Come on, Phil."

McIlroy, who was reportedly offered US$2.5 million (S$3.4 million) to play in the tournament, hinted in his Golf Channel interview that "morality" had influenced his decision.

"100 per cent, there's a morality to it as well," McIlroy said.

"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."

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