Turkish Airlines Open 'disappointed' by late McIlroy withdrawal

Joy Chakravarty 19:07 02/11/2016
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McIlroy has skipped the event in Turkey.

There was immense interest surrounding the tournament when former world No1 Tiger Woods included it in his comeback and McIlroy also signed up.

The Turkish Airlines Open was going to be Woods’ second event after Safeway Open on the PGA Tour, but the 14-time major champion postponed his scheduled return in the first week of October.

And given the political situation in Turkey, McIlroy also withdrew last Saturday. That has hurt the organisers more as the Northern Irishman was clearly the face of the tournament this year – his pictures adorning hoardings and banners everywhere in Antalya.

Agaoglu felt McIlroy was being disrespectful towards title sponsors Turkish Airlines, who are now heavily involved in golf.

“If they are afraid of such kind of things, there is no safe place in the world,” said Agaoglu.

“This is one of the major golf tournaments in the continent of Europe. I think we have to have a little bit of respect for the sponsors. Turkish Airlines is investing a lot in golf – apart from this they sponsor a Challenge Tour event, they sponsor a Ladies European Tour event, and they sponsor one of the biggest amateur events which involve so many golfers across the globe.

“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, you can stand on top of the rankings, but being a super athlete, we need something else.”

Agaoglu was also disappointed that McIlroy did not get in touch with the organisers before announcing it in the media.

“I am little bit surprised…disappointed…because I learnt about Rory pulling out from the media,” he added.

“On the other hand, Tiger sent me an e-mail an hour before he announced that he was going to pull out. He apologized and said he was as disappointed as we were that he was withdrawing. I am very hopeful, and looking forward to, Tiger coming back and playing here next year.

“Frankly speaking, Antalya is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world. In its history, not a single person has died or got injured by any terrorist attack here. This is the safest city in the whole of Turkey. This is also the safest hotel and golf course in the world. It recently hosted the G20 summit.”

Agaoglu said the organisers did everything that the European Tour had asked them to do to allay the fears of the players. He hoped a successful conduct of this year’s tournament will send out a strong message to the world about Antalya and Turkey.

“The European Tour demanded and we took a lot of extra security measures for the players who are coming from all parts of the world. We even had chartered flights from Shanghai and Gatwick this year,” he added.

“And there were many other players who came by themselves from all over the world. They also did not face any issues.

“Really, things are going well here. It is absolutely the same as it was last year. There is a campaign going on against Turkey. We all know this and we are doing our best to minimize it. This week will showcase that all is well with Turkey.”

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