Rory McIlroy was a late withdrawal from this week’s Turkish Airlines Open, the first event in the European Tour’s finals series, and he drew criticism from both the tournament director and fellow players.
McIlroy’s reason for the WD? Safety concerns. Turkey has been the target of several bombings in the last month, including one last week in the city of Antalya, the tournament’s host city.
Ahmet Agaoglu, president of the Turkish Golf Federation, said Antalya is secure.
“At the request of the European Tour we have taken lots of extra measures this week,” Agaoglu said. “We laid on charter flights for players coming from China and England. But others came by themselves. They flew to Istanbul, made their connections to Antalya and took courtesy cars to the hotel. They did not ask for any extra security.”
Padraig Harrington and Lee Westwood expressed disappointment in McIlroy’s absence.
“You would never have a greater welcome than you would there, because they appreciated that you didn’t not go, or didn’t read into a situation any more than it was,” Harrington said while referencing his play in Northern Ireland during the IRA uprisings in the ’80s and ’90s. “In that sense, that has made me travel the world and not necessarily think I am the center of focus in any shape or form when I go places.”
“I’m a little bit disappointed,” said Westwood. “Rory brings an awful lot to a golf tournament. He’s a former World No. 1, he’s defending the money list and he’s pretty much taken himself out of that by not playing this week.”
Agaoglu may just wish he received more notice that McIlroy planned to take a pass.
“[McIlroy] did not contact me,” he said. “Tiger [Woods] sent me an e-mail an hour before he announced he was not coming. He apologized. He said how disappointed he was. I am hopeful he will come here to play next year.”