Rory McIlroy has received criticism after his late withdrawal from this week's Turkish Airlines Open amidst safety concerns.
The event boasts a prize fund of $5.7 million, but the mouthwatering amount did not prevent McIlroy, or other high profile figures, from withdrawing, which also included Tiger Woods, who recently announced his delay from returning to competitive golf until the Hero World Challenge next month.
Though initially not disclosing his reason for withdrawing, when asked about the safety fears and the situation in the unsettled region of Antalya, McIlroy said: "It's obvious isn't it? The fact I've won the FedEx Cup this year and won the Race to Dubai before made the decision a little easier."
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With the Turkish Airlines Open set to be held in Antalya at Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort, an incident on Tuesday where an explosion in a car parked outside the Antalya Trade and Industry Chamber injured around a dozen people, is just one of many incidents which have raised safety concerns.
Earlier this month, there were reports from Turkish media that rockets were being fired from a mountain range which is situated near a highway linking the city of Antalya to the resort town of Kemer.
American golfer Patrick Reed is also on the list of withdrawals after warnings from the US State Department, but Masters champion Danny Willett and European Tour stalwarts Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington showed their commitment to the Turkish Open and dismissed any worries in regards to safety.
Ahmet Agaoglu, the president of the Turkish Golf Federation, has been one of the main driving forces behind the event, and admitted he was “disappointed" with McIlroy’s decision to withdraw, as well as his manner of doing so, claiming it to be disrespectful of the title sponsors who invest a lot into the tournament.
When asked about McIlroy’s absence, Agaoglu said: "I am little bit surprised and disappointed, because I learned about Rory pulling out from the media.
"On the other hand, Tiger sent me an email an hour before he announced that he was going to pull out.
"He apologised and said he was as disappointed as we were that he was withdrawing. But I am very hopeful, and looking forward to, Tiger coming back and playing here next year.
In regards to the safety concerns surrounding the tournament, Agaoglu added: "If they are afraid of such kind of things, there is no safe place in the world.
"This is one of the major tournaments in Europe and I think we have to have a little bit of respect for the sponsors. Turkish Airlines invest a lot in golf.
"It impacts our tourism also. Just saying that I don't fine a country safe and pulling out, I don't think it is a correct approach. You can be a super golfer and stand on top of the rankings, but being a super athlete, we need something else.”
Agaoglu later then added: ”Frankly speaking, Antalya is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world. In its history, not a single person has died or been injured by any terrorist attack here. This is the safest city in the whole of Turkey, it's also the safest hotel and golf course in the world and it recently hosted the G20 summit.
"The European Tour demanded a lot of extra security measures for the players who are coming from all parts of the world, so we even had chartered flights from Shanghai and Gatwick this year. And there were many other players who came by themselves from all over the world. They also did not face any issues."
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