McIlroy skips Turkish Open amid security fears


Shanghai (AFP)

World number three Rory McIlroy has made a late decision to skip this week's Turkish Airlines Open over security fears.

The four-time major winner confirmed his pullout on Sunday from the first of the tour's "Final Three" series of big money 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 I 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 Thursday.

It is the second blow to the tournament. Tiger Woods was originally on the entry list but withdrew earlier this month after electing to delay his comeback from injury until December.

Up to three rockets fired by unknown assailants on October 15 in the Antalya region hit a roadside fishmonger, causing no casualties, reports said.

Although the attacks took place some 90 kilometres (56 miles) from the tournament venue, they prompted officials to seek security reassurances.

McIlroy's withdrawal leaves Masters champion Danny Willett, who slumped to 75th place in Shanghai, as the top-ranked player on the Turkey entry list.

Willett will be looking to regain ground after his poor showing in the WGC event dropped him out of the top spot in the "Race to Dubai" European order of merit standings for the first time since winning the US Masters in April.

British Open champion and Olympic silver medallist Henrik Stenson now leads the Race to Dubai after finishing tied second in Shanghai.

McIlroy remains third but now has only one event remaining, the season-ending Dubai World Tour Championship in three weeks time.

Willett will play all three Final Series events in Turkey, South Africa and Dubai. Stenson will play the two after Turkey.

That means even a win for McIlroy in Dubai may not be enough to retain his European Tour crown for the third consecutive year and fourth time in five years.

"I guess it's out of my hands. That's the thing," said McIlroy Sunday. "If I have somewhat of a chance going into Dubai, that's great. Those boys 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."

Top five in the European Tour's Race to Dubai standings after the WGC-HSBC Champions on Sunday:

1 Henrik Stenson (SWE) 3,843,283.58 points

2. Danny Willett (ENG) 3,581,896.64

3. Rory McIlroy (NIR) 2,824,148.55

4. Alex Noren (SWE) 2,318,603.58

5. Tyrrell Hatton (ENG) 2,242,985.02