McIlroy admits ‘morality’ played a part in turning down Saudi Arabia event

The Northern Irishman has joined Tiger Woods in opting not to play at the Saudi International in January

Saudi International - McIlroy declined competing
Rory McIlroy has turned down an invite to play in Saudi Arabia (Kenny Smith/PA)

Rory McIlroy has ruled out competing at next month’s European Tour event in Saudi Arabia.

Fifteen-time major winner Tiger Woods revealed last week that he had turned down an invitation to play in the second edition of the Saudi International.

World number one Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson – who won the inaugural tournament in February – and five-time major champion Phil Mickelson are among those who will compete in the event which gets under way on January 30.

Saudi Arabia’s human rights record has been described as “heinous” by Amnesty International.

Northern Irishman McIlroy, who refused to deny a report that he had been offered a 2.5million US dollars (£1.9m) appearance fee to play at the Saudi International, told the Golf Channel: “It’s just not something that would excite me.

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“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.

“One hundred percent, 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.”

Saudi International - McIlroy declined competing
Anthony Joshua, right, fought Andy Ruiz Jr in Riyadh at the weekend (Hassan Ammar/AP)

Britain’s Anthony Joshua won his heavyweight boxing title fight against Andy Ruiz Jr in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh at the weekend.

The Middle East country can also count Formula E and WWE Wrestling among its growing sporting portfolio.

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