Rory McIlroy defends players' right to play in Saudi Arabia tournament

(CNN)Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy has defended players' rights to compete in the Saudi International next year.

The event in February, which used to be on the European Tour but has since moved to the Asian Tour, has already confirmed a field of high-profile names, including Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson.
However, the PGA Tour has yet to grant waivers to members due to a conflict in scheduling -- the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is taking place on the same weekend.
    Those who play in Saudi Arabia without a waiver may face a fine but McIlroy, who will not be competing in Jeddah, says he sees no issues in players making money in other ways.
      "In my opinion, I think the Tour should grant releases. It's an Asian Tour event, it's an event that has official golf world rankings," McIlroy said, per Reuters.
        "I do see reasons why they wouldn't grant releases, but I think if they're trying to do what's best for their members, and their members are going to a place other than the PGA Tour and being able to earn that money, I mean, we're independent contractors, and I feel like we should be able to do that.
        "I should be able to go play where I want if I have the credentials and I have the eligibility to do so.
          "I'd say most of the players on tour would be in a similar opinion to me."
            The event will be held at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, near Jeddah, and will start on February 3.
            Organizers hope the tournament will usher in a new era of golf in the region.