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Men's Golf Rory McIlroy refuses to compete in Saudi Arabia

RORY McILROY has ruled out competing at next month’s European Tour event in Saudi Arabia, citing “morality” as one of his reasons for turning down a near £2 million payday.

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 No 1 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 $2.5m (£1.9m) appearance fee to play at the Saudi International, told the Golf Channel: “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.

“One hundred per cent, there’s a morality to it as well.

“I think the atmosphere looks better at the events on the west coast [of United States] and I’d much rather play in front of big golf fans and play in a tournament that really excites me.”

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

The Middle Eastern country can also count Formula E and WWE Wrestling among its growing sporting portfolio, while it will add snooker in October 2020.


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