Rory McIlroy: Rory McIlroy won’t play in Saudi International

Rory McIlroy last played in the Saudi International in 2014

Rory McIlroy says players have a right to choose where they play and says he will not play in the Saudi International next year.

The Middle East event has been cancelled amid criticism of the government in Saudi Arabia after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month.

“I don’t think it is fair to a lot of guys who have committed to it,” said world number four McIlroy.

The tournament could be revived in 2019 or 2020.

“I think that is up to the tournament to come back. But I will not be playing in it. It is not my tour. I was looking forward to it as a chance to increase my stats this year.”

Four-time major winner McIlroy, 28, said he had not spoken to any of his fellow pros who were playing in next year’s tournament but had been in contact with European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley.

“We are all pushing for Saudi to be punished. I don’t think that is right and players have the right to say that,” said McIlroy.

Pelley has ruled out the series staging further tournaments in the region unless the event can be relocated.

Earlier this week, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud had said he was “extremely upset” by the murder of journalist Khashoggi.

He added Saudi Arabia will “hold all those responsible for this murder accountable for their actions”.

Turkey has suggested Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the consulate, which, according to reports, has been undergoing a major overhaul designed to boost the image of the Saudi royal family in the West.

Dutch golfer Alex Noren, a four-time winner on the European Tour, has already pulled out of next year’s event.

“I think the Masters and Players are the most important events for us. And I’m thinking of those before the Saudi,” said Noren.

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