Shanghai: World number three Rory McIlroy has made a late decision to skip this week’s Turkish Airlines Open because of fears over security.
The four-time major winner confirmed his pullout on Sunday from the first of the tour’s “Final Three” series of playoff events after finishing fourth in the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai on Sunday behind winner Hideki Matsuyama.
Asked by AFP if a rocket attack two weeks ago in the region which hosts the event had been behind his withdrawal, McIlroy said: “I think it’s obvious. I gave it a lot of thought, basically all week.
“It was sort of a weight on my mind and I felt like slept a lot better last night knowing that I’d made a decision.”
The player’s management had informed the European Tour on Saturday night that McIlroy would not travel to the Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort, Antalya, for the $7 million tournament which starts on Thursday.
It is the second huge blow to the tournament. Tiger Woods was originally on the entry list but withdrew a month ago after electing to delay his comeback from injury until December.
Up to three rockets fired by unknown assailants on October 15 in the Antalya Resort region hit a roadside fishmonger, causing no casualties, reports said.
Although the attacks took place some 90 kilometres from the tournament venue, they prompted officials to seek security reassurances.
‘Out of my hands’
McIlroy’s withdrawal leaves Masters champions Danny Willett, who slumped to 75th place in Shanghai, as the top-ranked player in the event.
The Masters champions Willett is seeking to secure the “Race to Dubai” European order of merit crown ahead but fell behind new standings leader Henrik Stenson after the Swede finished second on Sunday.
McIlroy remains third in the standings but has only one event remaining, the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in three weeks time.
“I guess (the Race to Dubai) is out of my hands. That’s the thing,” said McIlroy Sunday.
“If I have somewhat of a chance going into Dubai, that’s great.”
McIlroy needs both players to finish well down the fields in their respective remaining tournaments and will almost certainly also need to win in Dubai to have a chance of retaining his European Tour crown for the third consecutive year and fourth time in five years.
“Those boys (Willett and Stenson) can battle it out. I think over the course of the season, they have had big wins and played well. They are two major champions, so I’m OK with that,” he added.
“The fact that I’ve won the FedEx Cup this year and that I’ve won the Race to Dubai before made the decision a little bit easier.”
Top five in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai standings after WGC-HSBC Champions on Sunday:
1 Henrik Stenson (SWE) 3,843,283.58 points
- Danny Willett (ENG) 3,581,896.64
- Rory McIlroy (NIR) 2,824,148.55
- Alex Noren (SWE) 2,318,603.58
- Tyrrell Hatton (ENG) 2,242,985.02