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Morality one reason why Saudi Arabia a no go: Rory

 

Walking away: Rory McIlroy is happy to turn down £1.9m to appear at an event in Saudi Arabia
Walking away: Rory McIlroy is happy to turn down £1.9m to appear at an event in Saudi Arabia
Patrick Reed

By Phil Casey

Rory McIlroy has knocked back the opportunity to play an event in Saudi Arabia despite the offer of an enormous appearance fee.

The Ulsterman will not take part in the European Tour event, which will include Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson.

The Americans have come under criticism for accepting large offers to feature, with Amnesty International describing the Saudi regime's human rights records as "heinous".

Tiger Woods also declined the reported £1.9m ($2.5m) appearance fee on the table, but McIlroy discussed the reasons behind his decision, including "morality".

"Yeah 100 per cent, there's a morality to it as well," McIlroy said about the event, which will take place from January 30 to February 2.

"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."

McIlroy admitted he was fine with Anthony Joshua's decision to fight Andy Ruiz in Saudi Arabia last weekend, adding: "I had no problem watching that and cheering on AJ.

"But it's just not something that would excite me (to play in Saudi Arabia).

"I think the atmosphere looks better at the events on the west coast (of America) and I'd much rather play in front of big golf fans and play in a tournament that really excites me."

American golfer Patrick Reed, meanwhile, has denied cheating in a tournament last week and hit out at International team players for saying he had, as a little edge entered proceedings yesterday ahead of the Presidents Cup.

Reed received a two-stroke penalty for improving his lie when he moved sand with his practice swing on Friday at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.

The incident has dominated the run-up to the biennial contest, which begins tomorrow.

Cameron Smith was quoted in Australian media as saying that Reed had been "cheating the rules" and some of his International team-mates said the American had exposed himself to some flak from the crowd through his actions.

Former Masters champion Reed fired back at a news conference yesterday, saying "cheat" was inaccurate because he had not seen the sand move and the officials concurred that he inadvertently improved his lie.

"It's not the right word to use," he said. "If you do something unintentionally that breaks the rules, it's not considered cheating.

"If you're intentionally trying to do something, that would be considered cheating, but I wasn't intentionally trying to improve a lie or anything like that.

"It's just wrong, it's just not right."

United States player/captain Woods on Monday said that he had spoken to Reed about the incident and was keen to draw a line under it as he looks to extend the Americans' seven-match winning streak at the Presidents Cup.

The 15-time Major champion sank the winning putt the time the contest was last held at Royal Melbourne in 2011, when the Australian crowd was criticised by some Internationals for being overawed by the American players.

Reed suspected the row was being used by the Internationals to ensure that did not happen again.

"Of course they are going to speak out, because they want to get their crowds going and get on their side. That's the name of the game," he added.

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