ASIAN GOLF INDUSTRY FEDERATION

Saudi International Enjoys Major Boost

Patrick Reed will be among the headline acts at January’s Saudi International. Picture by Andrew Redington/Getty Images.

Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: The 2020 Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers has announced more Major additions for the upcoming championship in King Abdullah Economic City.

Former Masters winners Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia, in addition to 2016 Open champion Henrik Stenson, will return to the Kingdom after making their debut this year. They will be joined at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club from January 30 by reigning Open champion Shane Lowry, who will make his first appearance when he arrives to compete for a prize fund of US$3.5 million.

This follows on from defending champion Dustin Johnson and world number one Brooks Koepka confirming their return last month. With this latest raft of additions, the event looks to build on an official strength of field rating that saw it ranked the third highest non-Major event of 2019.

Reed, who plays most of his golf on the PGA Tour but joined the European Tour in 2015, is excited to build on the positive effect the event had on introducing the game to the people of Saudi Arabia in January.

“I loved playing in Saudi Arabia,” said Reed, who has represented the United States in the Ryder Cup on three occasions. “The golf facilities at Royal Greens are world class and I was honoured to be part of history at the Saudi Golf Federation’s first professional event.

“I was also lucky enough to be invited to one of the local schools and it was really rewarding to meet the kids and talk to them about golf and what we were doing there that week. To see all those school kids come out to the course and watch us play on the weekend was an incredible experience. Golf Saudi is doing a fantastic job of growing the game and I hope I can help further their progress in the future.”

European Ryder Cup stars Stenson and Garcia will return to Royal Greens Golf & Country Club for a second year having both previously captured titles in the Middle East – in Dubai and Qatar, respectively – and are currently ranked 40 and 39 in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR).

They will be joined by Irishman Lowry, who himself has tasted success in the Middle East, claiming the title in Abu Dhabi en route to his famous victory at Royal Portrush in July. He has climbed to 19 in the OWGR and is setting his sights on a maiden Ryder Cup appearance next September.

“I’ve heard a lot of the guys on Tour saying they really enjoyed the Saudi International tournament last year, so I’m looking forward to experiencing it for myself,” said Lowry, who has won five times on the European Tour. “The golf course sounds like it’s in great condition and by all accounts the hospitality around the event is first class. I’m looking forward to playing there for the first time and continuing the European Tour’s goal of growing the game of golf in new countries.”

“We have a vision for golf to help transform Saudi Arabia and become a premier golf destination. It is, therefore, extremely important for us drive the game forward both here and around the world by hosting the best players at the Saudi International,” said HE Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Chairman of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi, an Executive Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.

He added: “Last year we were extremely pleased with the support we received and it will be a pleasure to welcome these four Major champions to King Abdullah Economic City and Royal Greens Golf & Country Club for the second hosting of the tournament.”

Ahmed Linjawy, Group CEO of KAEC, said: “We are delighted to have this unique international golf tournament in its second edition and excited to be welcoming back the world-renowned golfers to King Abdullah Economic City.

“KAEC aims to make the city among the top attractive tourism destinations on the Red Sea in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. The Royal Greens Golf & Country Club is a stunning multi global award-winning development and proud jewel of the city’s rapidly growing leisure and sport facilities offering.”

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