Rory McIlroy feels golfers must be allowed to compete in Saudi International

Ahead of the Hero World Challenge in Nassau, McIlroy said the PGA Tour must grant permission to players to compete in the tournament which moved from the European Tour to the Asian Tour.

Four-time Major winner and PGA Tour Player Advisory Council Chairman Rory McIlroy believes that golfers should be allowed to compete in the Saudi International.   -  AP

Four-time Major winner and PGA Tour Player Advisory Council Chairman Rory McIlroy believes that golfers should be allowed to compete in the Saudi International in February.

The Saudi International, which moved from the European Tour to the Asian Tour, has enticed several high-profile names like Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson to sign up. The PGA Tour and European Tour, however, has yet to grant permission to players to compete in the tournament.

The tournament is backed by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, and offers considerable prize money.

“We (golfers) are independent contractors, and we should be able to play where we want. So I think the Tour should grant releases (to those who want to play in the Saudi International). It’s an Asian Tour event that has official golf world rankings. For me, the PGA Tour is the best place in the world to play, but a lot of other players are doing that (signing up for Saudi International), and it's fair to let them," McIlroy said in a media interaction on the sidelines of the Hero World Challenge here on Wednesday.

READ: Hero World Challenge Golf: Morikawa favourite in a strong field

In a pre-event press conference, superstar Tiger Woods threw his weight behind the PGA Tour.

“I’m supporting the PGA Tour. That’s where my legacy is. I’ve been fortunate enough to have won 82 events on this tour and 15 major championships, and been a part of the World Golf Championships - the start of them and the end of them. I understand that some of the comparisons are very similar to when Arnold (Palmer) and Jack (Nicklaus) broke off from the PGA of America to start the Tour. I don’t see it that way. I think the Tour has done a fantastic job. Jay Monahan (Commissioner of the PGA TOUR) has done an unbelievable job during a very difficult time in the pandemic,” Woods said.

ALSO READ: Tiger Woods supports PGA Tour over any rival leagues

American and two-time Major winner Collin Morikawa explained that he would like to keep his options open. “I'm 24, and I'm keeping all eyes and ears open. The PGA Tour has been the focal point of my entire career. But at the end of the day, all we're trying to do is grow the game. How do we create this outlet that is not just for a U.S. market, but for the global market? When it comes to Saudi International, the underlying message that everyone needs to realise is we're here to grow the game.,” Morikawa said.

Morikawa's 'Brian Lara promise'

Morikawa promised to do his research on West Indies cricket legend Brain Lara, who was his partner in the Hero World Challenge pro-am round here.

“I'll be honest. I didn't realise who he (Lara) was until about five holes in. What an amazing guy. I didn't give him a tip until the 18th, and he was a little mad since he was aiming about 50 yards right on every hole. You could see the competitive spirit in him. I will definitely be on the internet looking him up later today,” Morikawa said after the round.

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