Inaugural Saudi International field will feature four of the world’s top five players

Sport360 staff 13:35 12/01/2019
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Victorious European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn as well as reigning US Open and PGA Championship title holder Brooks Koepka are among the headline acts for the inaugural Saudi International powered by SBIA.

The tournament takes place in King Abdullah Economic City at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club from January 31 to February 3.

Headlining the field, which already includes world No1 and 3, Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson, will be three-time major winner and world No2 Koepka. The 2018 PGA Tou_r Player of the Year not only defended his US Open title last summer, becoming the first player to do so in 29 years, but he went on to add to his major haul at the PGA Championship.

Fellow American Bryson Dechambeau (world No5), who boasts three PGA Tour victories in his last seven starts, completes the American contingent and will head to Saudi Arabia having opened his season with a seventh place finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions last week.

Joining them for the event, which features on the European Tour schedule for the first time, is four-time major champion and 71-time tournament winner, Ernie Els, who will make his second trip to King Abdullah Economic City, having been part of the grand opening in April 2018.

Thomas Bjorn is one of a host of stellar names appearing.

Thomas Bjorn is one of a host of stellar names appearing.

Completing the list of golfing talent on show are European Ryder Cup heroes Lee Westwood and Thorbjorn Olesen, who each played their part in Europe’s dramatic victory at Le Golf National, with Westwood, a veteran of 10 Ryder Cup matches as a player, serving as vice captain and debutant Olesen claiming a vital singles point against Jordan Spieth.

The tournament field now boasts four of the world’s top five players, seven major champions and eight players from last year’s Ryder Cup.

Speaking about the latest additions to the field, HE Yasir Al-Rumayyan, chairman of the Saudi Golf Federation, said: “Our intention from the outset was to secure one of the strongest fields in world golf to compete in our inaugural event.

“Today’s announcement is the final step and completes a headline roster befitting a championship of this significance and will attract major national and international interest.”

Koepka, a former world No1, said: “I started my professional career in Europe and the diversity of tournaments and experiences I enjoyed has undoubtedly helped broaden my game and helped me to perform on the international stage.

“It’s always exciting to line up against the best players in the world and I am looking forward to experiencing the culture of a new country.”

2016 Ryder Cup - Singles Matches

South African veteran Els, who will lead the International Team as Presidents Cup captain in Australia later this year, added: “I’ve played golf all over the world and was delighted to be invited to play Royal Greens earlier this year.

“The place is spectacular and it will be a great venue for the event. I’ve spent some time getting to know a little bit about the Kingdom’s plans to accelerate golf development in the country and I’m privileged to be a part of it.”

The tournament will take place within King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, which lies along the spectacular Red Sea coastline.

The club boasts a premier championship golf course, a state-of-the-art clubhouse, a world-class practice facility and stunning residential and recreational facilities.

Attracting many of the best players in the world, the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisory will place a special focus on families, community, charity and junior development as the Kingdom looks to develop its golfing pedigree.

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