Rory McIlroy defends Saudi Arabia tourney

Written by by Staff Writer

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — Rory McIlroy has defended the players’ right to play in the forthcoming Saudi Arabia Golf Open.

The reigning world No. 2 expressed concern that some players who refuse to play in the tournament could be banned for playing in the rest of the season.

He told reporters on Thursday: “I understand the security reasons and everybody else’s views, but I know that if we’re going to go there, we’re going to stand by it.”

McIlroy, who was speaking before the start of the DP World Tour Championship tournament at Jumeirah Golf Estates, said players had not been pressured to come to the $5 million Desert Classic at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club.

“I just want to take a little bit of the focus away from that but I think there are going to be some guys that can’t come and are going to miss out on other tournaments that they want to play in,” he said.

“There have been no players since the security concerns came out that say they won’t come and so I think there should be some kind of compromise.”

While the world’s top 100 ranked players are exempt, the 20-man field also includes the two greatest international players of the 21st century, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods.

McIlroy said he hoped the right-wing Saudi newspaper Al-Watan would continue to support the event despite criticism of its sponsor.

“It’s never going to be perfect,” he said. “There have always been human rights issues, in many countries, and it’s never going to be perfect but that’s life and I think this is a good place for it to happen at.”

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