PHOTO: A Turkish Airlines plane. (Courtesy of Turkish Airlines Facebook page)
The recent unrest in Turkey has impacted more than just the travel industry, as several top-name golfers have pulled out of the 2016 Turkish Airlines Open due to concerns about safety.
According to CBSSports.com, some of the biggest names in the sport, including Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Patrick Reed, have withdrawn from the first European Tour Race To Dubai playoff event, the Turkish Airlines Open.
The decision by several golfers to skip the annual tournament taking place between Nov. 3 and Nov. 6 comes on the heels of the United States Department of State issuing a travel warning for Turkey Saturday.
“The U.S. Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens of increased threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey. U.S. citizens should avoid travel to southeast Turkey and carefully consider the risks of travel to and throughout the country,” the State Department warning read. “The U.S. Department of State is updating this Travel Warning to reflect the October 29, 2016, decision to order the departure of family members of employees posted to the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul, Turkey. The Department of State made this decision based on security information indicating extremist groups are continuing aggressive efforts to attack U.S. citizens in areas of Istanbul where they reside or frequent.”
The problem for the European Tour is that the Turkish Airlines Open will take place at the Carya Golf Club in the city of Antalya, which was hit by two missile strikes just two weeks ago. The attack was directed at a highway connecting Antalya to the resort town of Kemer.
The decision to skip the tournament is a blow to the field for the Turkish Airlines Open, as McIlroy, Stenson and Reed are all elite golfers who add prestige to the event. The Race to Dubai standings are sure to be shaken up now as well, with Stenson and McIlroy ranked first and third respectively heading into the event.
“I guess it's out of my hands. I took the decision not to go to Turkey next week,” McIlroy told reporters before learning of Stenson’s decision to witdraw. “Those boys can battle it out. If I have somewhat of a chance going into Dubai, that's great. If not, they've had big wins over the course of the season. They've played well — two major championships. I'm OK with that.”