Contrary to reports, Rory McIlroy had no plans to play in last week’s Australian Open and did not ditch the Sydney tourney because organizers would not cough up additional cash to guarantee his presence, the head of Golf Australia told Sky Sports on Thursday.
"I can confirm there was no agreement in place with Rory McIlroy or his management at any point for Rory to play in this year's Open," Stephen Pitt, the chief executive of the Aussie equivalent of the PGA of America, said in a statement refuting an Australia Golf Digest story from earlier this month, according to Sky Sports. "In addition to not having any agreement in place, at no stage were Golf Australia or tournament organizers advised by Rory's management that his appearance costs had increased. This simply isn't true."
Andrew Georgiou, chief operating officer of Aussie Open promotor World Sport Group, also debunked the original story, which claimed that McIlroy had boosted his appearance fee from $1 million to $2 million after winning the PGA Championship in August.
"We have a very good relationship with Rory and his management team and Rory has played in a number of our events,” Georgiou said. "At no stage had Rory or his management committed to play in Australia this year, so any commentary about appearance fees is totally irrelevant and clearly inaccurate."
McIlroy’s Horizon Sports manager, Conor Ridge, thanked both organizations for clearing his client’s name by “clarifying that last week's reports were totally inaccurate and without foundation.
"Both Rory and Horizon Sports Management value our reputation for professionalism and integrity,” Ridge said. “Hence, when such inaccuracies are reported in the media, we have an obligation to set the record straight.”
The 23-year-old world No. 1 had not played in Australia for five years, Ridge noted, but “very much looking forward to returning down there to play again in the near future."