Rory McIlroy absence from Turkish Airlines Open frustrates organisers

Rory McIlroy withdrew from the Turkish Airlines Open citing security fears
Phil Casey

TOURNAMENT organisers and fellow players have expressed their disappointment at Rory McIlroy's absence from the Turkish Airlines Open.

The £5.7million event has been hit by a spate of withdrawals, including that of headline attraction McIlroy, due to safety fears surrounding the first of the three Final Series events.

The European Tour is understood to have been on the verge of cancelling the tournament last week after an explosion in a car parked outside the Antalya Trade and Industry Chamber injured around a dozen people on Tuesday.

However, Turkish Golf Federation president Ahmet Agaoglu hailed the tournament venue as the safest in the world - it hosted world leaders at the G20 summit in 2015 - as Lee Westwood insisted he had no qualms about competing.

"For those who worry about such things there is no safe place in the world," Agaoglu said at the Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort. "I do not see pulling out of events as the right approach to take.

"I'm a little bit surprised and disappointed because I learnt Rory pulled out from the media. Tiger (Woods) sent me an email an hour before he makes the press release (announcing he would not make his comeback from injury).

"We have to respect a little bit the sponsors because they are investing huge money.

"Antalya is one of the largest tourist destinations in the world and not a single person died or was injured by any terrorist attack. This is the safest city in Turkey and also the safest hotel and golf course in the world."

Asked if he had any doubts about playing the event, Westwood said: "I played with (European Tour chief executive) Keith Pelley in the pro-am in China last week. He asked me my opinion and I had no fears about coming to Turkey.

"The world we live in, anything can happen anywhere and Turkey is no different to anywhere else. I don't think the media do Turkey any favours. I think they blow a lot of things out of proportion. Once you get here, you see that it's fantastic.

"I'm a little bit disappointed (by the withdrawals). Obviously the most high-profile was probably Rory's and Rory brings an awful lot to a golf tournament. He's a former world number one and defending the money list and he's pretty much taken himself out of that by not playing this week.

"It's a shame he's not here this week, but I guess he didn't feel the way I feel about the place and the security of it all."

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