Rory McIlroy may have had his reasons for withdrawing from this week’s Turkish Airlines Open, but that decision did not sit well with one of the tournament’s executives.
McIlroy withdrew from the event over the weekend, citing what he described as “obvious” concerns. The U.S. State Department has issued a travel advisory for Americans traveling to and through Turkey, and Antalya – which hosts this week’s 78-man event – was the site of an explosion last week that injured a dozen people.
Ahmet Agaoglu is the president of the Turkish Golf Federation, and he took McIlroy to task both for the decision and how he communicated it to tournament officials.
“For those who worry about such things, there is no safe place in the world,” Agaoglu told Golf Digest. “I do not see pulling out of events as the right approach to take. I was a little bit surprised and disappointed to learn that Rory was pulling out in the media. He did not contact me.”
Agaoglu added that unlike McIlroy, Tiger Woods did contact the tournament an hour before announcing his withdrawal last month as he continues to battle both injury and a “vulnerable” golf game.
McIlroy is not the only marquee name missing from this week’s field. Patrick Reed also withdrew in the days leading up to the event, and Race to Dubai leader Henrik Stenson tweeted Tuesday that he never planned to play because of scheduling reasons. Overall, only three players in the Race to Dubai top 10 will tee it up in Antalya.
One of those three is Lee Westwood, who echoed Agaoglu’s sentiments regarding McIlroy’s withdrawal.
“I’m a little bit disappointed,” Westwood said. “He’s great to watch. 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.”
Agaoglu added that extra security measures were put in place this week at the request of the European Tour, including charter flights from both China and England.
“Antalya is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world,” he said. “Not one person has ever been killed or injured by any terrorist attack. This is the safest city, hotel and golf course in the country.”