Rory McIlroy was concerned his decision to accept a spot in next year’s World Golf Championship’s event in Saudi Arabia would fuel criticism. He has since faced increasing criticism from families of those killed in the Sept. 11 attacks, followed by questions in an AP interview whether he would play in the tournament.
He will, and a comment he made to the AP has him addressing the matter again.
“There are some things I’m asked to do a lot, but I’m entitled to my own views. My support was only for me playing,” McIlroy said Sunday after finishing a runner-up at the Indonesian Masters. “But obviously there is a lot of things that are not being said that are being written and spoken. It was one of those things where the guy’s views were based on what he thought he knew about it and I thought I knew a lot about it. I understand the family members that have family connection to it.”
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hosted President Donald Trump at the kingdom last week, which is the same week as the golf tournament at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Embassy did not respond to requests for comment about McIlroy and the Sept. 11 attacks.
In a piece published by GQ last week, Tony and Barbara Sigal were critical of McIlroy’s decision. They have a daughter who lost her life in the attacks.
“I don’t know about Rory, but personally I have a lot of friends and they’ve given me a lot of hard lessons. If you don’t know anything about something, you need to watch it with a grain of salt, and if you do know something, you should always give yourself some time to decide before you make any decisions,” McIlroy said. “You can get yourself into trouble sometimes. … I just felt I had to do it as a fan of golf and as a fan of myself as well, if I was going to play in the tournament.
“I felt if I didn’t play in the tournament, the family members out there would feel I wasn’t showing them any kind of respect, so I felt I had to go.”
The political and social views in Saudi Arabia has come under renewed scrutiny since Oct. 2, when women won the right to drive, removing the driving ban that applies to all women and men in the ultra-conservative country. The Saudi government announced later that day that it would allow women to board flights, apply for jobs, be appointed to public sector jobs and vote in municipal elections.
McIlroy said that was of no concern to him.
“I’m traveling down there, having the time of my life,” he said. “It’s only going to be three days, and then I’ll be back home and that’s it. I played in an Asian event last week, which was a pretty quick turnaround, so I’m looking forward to this one also.”