Rory McIlroy revealed that he turned down a trip to Saudi Arabia for the European Tour's controversial event
Rory McIlroy has joined Tiger Woods in turning down the offer to play at the controversial Saudi International.
The Northern Irishman has reportedly turned down a hefty appearance fee proving once more that he is all about the golf, with money taking a back seat.
Unlike Phil Mickelson and the likes of Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed and Tony Finau who have already signed up.
Of course McIlroy would have been a huge draw but, if the appearance fee offers are anything to go by, he’s not quite on Woods’ level of attraction yet.
The Masters champion has also turned down the invite for a second time but was reportedly offered $500,000 more with tournament organisers believed to have offered McIlroy $2.5 million compared to Woods’ $3 million.
European Tour CEO Keith Pelley recently acknowledged that the tour is still struggling with the strength of its fields and will consider altering the schedule further in the coming years to try and attract the likes of McIlroy. But throwing large chunks of money won’t get McIlroy to come.
Unlike Woods, McIlroy didn’t hide the fact that he simply doesn’t want to go to Saudi Arabia and admitted that ‘morality’ was one of the factors behind his decision.
On Golf Channel’s Morning Drive, he said: “It’s just not something that excites me.
“One hundred per cent, there’s a morality to it as well…
“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.”
If Pelley is serious about growing the game and indeed having the best players in the world playing in his events, he surely must take a lot from McIlroy’s comments.
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The Saudi International takes place over the same weekend of the Phoenix Open, which is regularly voted as one of the best events on the PGA Tour, and while McIlroy is not confirmed to play there, he spoke of how the events on the West Coast of America played at that time of year are just better than the almost exhibition-like desert contest.
He said: “I think the atmosphere looks better at the events on the West Coast and I’d much rather play in front of big golf fans and play in a tournament that really excites me.”
The Saudi International will be played from January 30 at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club.