By Evin Priest
IT’S the zika virus 2.0. Except the latest major golf tournament the world’s best players are withdrawing from doesn’t present fears of a mosquito-borne virus but rather serious concerns of terrorist attacks in southern Turkey.
Tiger Woods, Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy were the marquee stars to have pulled out of the European Tour’s Turkish Airlines Open in Antalya, Turkey, 482 kilometres south of Istanbul. We don’t blame the trio – the Antalya area was hit with three rocket attacks earlier this month.
Woods withdrew at the same time he announced he would not make his long-awaited competitive return to golf at the Safeway Open in California earlier this month. McIlroy and Reed decided during the weekend rounds of last week’s WGC-HSBC Champions that they weren’t heading to Turkey.
McIlroy, who tied for fourth in the WGC-HSBC Champions on Sunday, said the safety concerns were on his mind throughout the entire week in Shanghai.
“It was weighing on my mind and I slept a lot better knowing that I’d made a decision,” McIlroy said.
“I gave it a lot of thought, basically all week. The fact that I have won the FedEx Cup this year and that I have won the Race to Dubai before made the decision a little bit easier.”
While the concerns over the Zika virus that caused the majority of the world’s best golfers to withdraw from the Rio 2016 Olympics in July, avoiding the Turkish Open is at least government mandated. The US Department of State Department “continues to warn US citizens of increased threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey. US citizens should avoid travel to southeast Turkey and carefully consider the risks of travel to and throughout the country.”