World No. 2 completes all-star golf field at Saudi International

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American Brooks Koepka plays his shot from the second tee during the first round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Golf Club in Lahaina, Hawaii. — AFP

JEDDAH — The Saudi International powered by SBIA has finalized its headline player line-up for the inaugural tournament taking place in King Abdullah Economic City at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3, announcing five more world-class players.

Headlining the field, which already includes world Nos. 1 and 3, Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson, will be three-time Major winner and world No. 2, Brooks Koepka.

The 2018 PGA Tour 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 No. 5), 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 worldwide winner, Ernie Els, who will make his second trip to King Abdullah Economic City, having been part of the grand opening in April 2018.

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.

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, 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, the former world No. 1, 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.”

Els, who will lead the International Team as Presidents Cup Captain in Australia later this year, commented: “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. — SG


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