World No.1 Dustin Johnson, 2020 US Open Champion Bryson DeChambeau and defending Champion Graeme McDowell have confirmed their participation in the third edition of the Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers, February 4 – 7, 2021.
Shaping up to be the strongest line-up on the European Tour’s Middle East swing, the first two winners of the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers, Johnson and McDowell are joined at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club by fellow Major Champion and man of the moment Bryson DeChambeau.
As the latest Major winner, 2020 US Open Champion DeChambeau has got the whole golf world talking as he emerged from lockdown with a transformed physique, some 20 pounds of muscle heavier than when he last visited the Kingdom in 2019. He claimed his first Major in style at Winged Foot last month, finishing a resounding six shots clear of the field and was the only player under par. While his power and length have been the talk of the town, his short game and putting form were perhaps even more impressive as he won his second title of the year, rising to fifth on the Official World Golf Rankings.
A seven-time winner on the PGA Tour, DeChambeau is returning to Saudi Arabia having played in the inaugural tournament in 2019. DeChambeau, known as the ‘golf scientist’ as he strives to factor physics to every aspect of his golf game, commented; “I have undergone a lot of changes since I last visited the Kingdom as I work to fulfil my golf potential and I think you can say the same about golf in Saudi as it continues to develop as Golf Saudi endeavour to grow the game. I finished a credible T6 in 2019 and I obviously hope to finish a little better this year but I am also really interested to see what has changed and how golf has grown since my last visit.”
World Number 1, Johnson, who followed up his 2019 victory by finishing second behind McDowell earlier this year, commented: “I am really looking forward to returning to Saudi Arabia for a third consecutive year. I’ve really enjoyed both of my visits and love the golf course, as evidenced by my win and runner-up finish. The scuba diving experiences I’ve had in the Red Sea have also been amazing!”
With 23 PGA Tour titles to his name, Johnson also feels he has a part to play in continuing the growth of the game by bringing it to new markets such as the Kingdom explaining: “It’s been pretty neat to witness the growth of golf in the Kingdom and it’s definitely one of the reasons I like to play in Saudi Arabia. Golf has been such an important part of my life, so it’s nice to get the chance to play a part in introducing it to a new audience. In just the past two years you can see the interest level rising in Saudi, especially amongst the juniors.”
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Northern Ireland’s defending Champion Graeme McDowell, winner of the 2010 US Open, was a hugely popular winner last year as a 12 under par total saw him add an 11th European Tour title to his resume, thwarting Johnson’s title defence.
The Ryder Cup star commented; “From the high of winning the 2020 Saudi International in February against such an amazing field we very quickly had to contend with all that COVID-19 has thrown at us since so I think I was lucky to be able to hold onto that awesome winning feeling through the darker parts of lockdown. I am really looking forward to getting 2020 over and having a fresh start to 2021 and, from what I’ve heard about how the field is shaping up, it sounds like almost everyone has decided to make that fresh start in Saudi Arabia!”
McDowell continued: “I don’t think I have ever seen a tournament establish itself so quickly on the player’s schedules as the Saudi International has. The Royal Greens Golf & Country Club is a great Championship course and huge credit to the Saudi Golf Federation for gathering such a world class field as they look to inspire a new generation of golfers in the Kingdom.”
Majed Al Sorour, CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi, said: “We are delighted that Saudi Arabia is open and able to host sporting events of such stature and announcing these three international golf stars is proof of that. We are very proud of the field we are assembling to play in the Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers and are very happy to have the support of so many of the world’s best golfers as it shows us that we are moving our event in the right direction. We have many more star names to announce in the coming weeks but we are absolutely delighted to start with these three great champions and are proud to host the third edition of this important event in Saudi Arabia as we work to develop golf in the region.”
The men’s event will be Saudi Arabia’s third professional golf tournament in the space of three months. The Kingdom is due to host two back-to-back world-class debut tournaments next month: the $1million Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by PIF taking place 12th-15th November, and the $500,000 Saudi Ladies Team International, running 17th-19th November.