McIlroy not interested in Saudi event: Doesn't excite me

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Coming off a three-win campaign that led to a FedExCup title and Player of the Year honors, Rory McIlroy is sticking with a PGA Tour-heavy schedule in 2020.

And a speculated $2.5 million appearance fee to compete in the Saudi International isn’t changing his mind.

McIlroy, who already has one win (WGC-HSBC Champions) under his belt this new Tour season, said Monday on “Morning Drive” that he had no desire to compete in the controversial European Tour event.

“I’d rather play a couple of events on the West Coast and not have to travel all the way to Saudi Arabia,” he said. “It’s just not something that would excite me.”

McIlroy hasn’t revealed the early part of his 2020 schedule, but last season competed at Kapalua, Torrey Pines and Riviera Country Club. While travel and adhering to a winning formula are part of McIlroy’s reasons for skipping the Saudi event, there is another.

“There’s a morality to it as well,” he said.

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This event, despite its inaugural edition being contested last year following the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey, has attracted several of the game’s biggest names, including Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and winner Dustin Johnson last year, and Phil Mickelson for 2020.

While McIlroy said “morality” was an issue in skipping the event, he acknowledged hypocrisy as he admitted to watching the Anthony Joshua-Andy Ruiz, Jr. boxing match, which was contested in Saudi Arabia this past weekend.

“Again, I’m no different. I had no problem watching the world heavyweight title fight there this weekend. I had no problem watching that and cheering on AJ, and all that sort of stuff,” McIlroy said.

“You can say that about so many countries, not just Saudi Arabia. You can say that about a lot of countries that we play in, that there’s a reason not to go.

“For me, I just don’t want to go. I don’t want to travel that far. I think the atmosphere looks better at the events on the West Coast. I’d much rather play in front of big golf fans and play in a tournament that really excites me.”