Saudi International R1

McDowell and Green share early lead

January 30 – February 02
Royal Green G&CC, King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia
$3,500,000
Round 2, Round 3, Round 4


Gavin Green and Graeme McDowell share the first-round lead of the second annual Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers, after shooting rounds of six-under-par 64 at King Abdullah Economic City’s Royal Greens Golf & Country Club. 

Saudi International R1 - McDowell and Green share early lead
Graeme McDowell. (Niall Carson/PA)

Malaysia’s Green, in completely contrasting conditions to McDowell, enjoyed the best of a sunny and calm morning. The 26-year-old led from the start of the tournament’s opening day, with a birdie at the first hole as part of the first group out at 7.15am. Green continued as he started to set the pace, carding eight birdies and dropping only two shots on his way to a 64 to take the early clubhouse lead.

Northern Ireland’s McDowell faced a different golf course altogether with a stiffening breeze picking up throughout the afternoon’s play. Known for grinding in tough conditions his 64 came courtesy of eight birdies and a double bogey, including four birdies in a row from the second hole, with a further three birdies to close out his round.

After the round Green said; “I hit lots of fairways, lots of greens, and putted really well. I got off to a good start, 5-under through nine and I played the hard holes well.”


Joint leader McDowell added: “I’ve had a new injection of motivation and focus since the summer last year. Got a new coach (Kevin Kirk) and he’s got me practicing better and thinking better and preparing myself better. I was playing with Phil (Mickelson) last year at Pebble Beach in the US Open and was taken aback how motivated he was and how much he wants it out here. He’s 49 trying to get better and win golf tournaments and that’s what I want. I got off to a great start which is important to do on this course and hung in well on the back nine.”

Playing partner Phil Mickelson, who made his Saudi debut, was equally as impressive throughout the blustery afternoon with a remarkable 6-under-par back-nine of 29, to shoot 66. The multi-major winner fought back from 2-over par after five holes to finish only two shots off the lead. 

America’s Mickelson commented: “On the back nine, things really started to come together. Meaning I hit a lot of good shots. I started making the putts, and made a lot of birdies, and it was just a good back nine that gave me a good chance heading into tomorrow. I feel like my game is a lot sharper than I’ve been scoring, so it was nice having that back nine.”

Behind Green and McDowell, a packed leaderboard of international stars await with eleven  players sitting within two shots of the leaders. Sweden’s former Open champion Henrik Stenson is third alongside fellow countryman Sebastian Soderberg, Spain’s Adri Arnaus, France’s Victor Perez and Venezuelan, Jhonattan Vegas who all took advantage of a benign morning to finish five-under-par, one behind the lead.


Stenson, playing in one of the morning’s marquee groups alongside Lee Westwood, winner two weeks ago in Abu Dhabi, and defending champion Dustin Johnson, fired a 65 courtesy of six birdies and one bogey. Playing partner Johnson will be satisfied with a steady three-under-par opening round, 67, to lie in 14th position at the end of opening day. 

Stenson, who – with Soderberg – missed the cut last year, said: “I certainly putted well. It was a lot of fighting and a lot of scrambling and some really good two-putts and chip shots around the greens. Probably the scorecard is a little tidier than I feel I played out there today.

“I think you’ve always got to stay patient when you’re out there playing golf, but I was just trying to be the best I could at each one of the shots out there. I guess when you have a good attitude and a good short game to rely on, you can post a nice score, even though you don’t feel you play your best.”

Local interests centred upon the three Saudi players featured amongst the world-class field, Saudi Arabia’s one and only professional Othman Almulla and amateurs Saud Alsharif and Faisal Salhab. On a challenging day for all three players it was Almulla who faired best to shoot five-over-par, 75.


After the round Almulla said: “It was an interesting day. This was actually the first time in a long time I’ve felt comfortable on the golf course. Having a nightmare last week actually put me in a much, much better position mentally to go out and perform this week. Obviously five-over par still isn’t good enough, but I can take a lot, a lot of positives from today – especially in how I struck the ball. If I can go out and continue to put myself in a position where I feel comfortable with my ball-striking, and I give myself opportunities, I think I can take another step up in my career.” 

While the live golf takes centre-stage, the Saudi International’s off-course Entertainment Zone will be packed with interactive, family fun experiences, plus a delicious selection of food trucks and pop-ups over its remaining three days – ensuring that the whole weekend provides ‘The Ultimate Day Out’.

Once the sun sets, Friday’s golf will be followed by two unforgettable live concerts. Canadian singer-songwriter Bryan Adams will rock-out, after Grammy Award–winning DJ Zedd whips the crowd into a frenzy.

Flamenco favourites the Gipsy Kings and Puerto Rican music sensation Luis Fonsi – the man behind global megahit ‘Despacito’ – will all take to the stage on Saturday night.

Tickets are now on sale for the Saudi International, priced at 50 SAR per day or 160 SAR for a full tournament pass (four days). Exclusive concert tickets start at 75 SAR.

For more tournament information, visit www.saudiinternational.com


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Hero World Challenge R1

Tours
By GT Editor
Pos.
Player
Nat
To Par
R1
T1
Gavin Green
MAS
-6
64
T1
Graeme McDowell
NIR
-6
64
T3
Adria Arnaus
ESP
-5
65
T3
Henrik Stenson
SWE
-5
65
T3
Jhonattan Vegas
VEN
-5
65
T3
Sebastian Soederberg
SWE
-5
65
T3
Victor Perez
FRA
-5
65
T8
Aaron Rai
ENG
-4
66
T8
Andy Sullivan
ENG
-4
66
T8
Phil Mickelson
USA
-4
66
T8
Ross Fisher
ENG
-4
66
T8
Ryan Fox
NZL
-4
66
T8
Tom Lewis
ENG
-4
66
T14
Dustin Johnson
USA
-3
67
T14
Francesco Laporta
ITA
-3
67
T14
Joost Luiten
NED
-3
67
T14
Lucas Herbert
AUS
-3
67
T14
Marcus Kinhult
SWE
-3
67
T14
Sebastian Garcia
ESP
-3
67
T14
Soren Kjeldsen
DEN
-3
67
T21
Adrian Meronk
POL
-2
68
T21
Alexander Bjoerk
SWE
-2
68
T21
Christiaan Bezuidenhout
RSA
-2
68
T21
David Howell
ENG
-2
68
T21
Fabrizio Zanotti
PAR
-2
68
T21
Jazz Janewattananond
THA
-2
68
T21
Justin Harding
RSA
-2
68
T21
Matthieu Pavon
FRA
-2
68
T21
Renato Paratore
ITA
-2
68
T21
Scott Hend
AUS
-2
68
T21
Sean Crocker
USA
-2
68
T21
Shubhankar Sharma
IND
-2
68
T33
Abraham Ancer
USA
-1
69
T33
Adrian Otaegui
ESP
-1
69
T33
Alexander Levy
FRA
-1
69
T33
Connor Syme
SCO
-1
69
T33
James Morrison
ENG
-1
69
T33
Jeff Winther
SWE
-1
69
T33
Matthias Schwab
AUT
-1
69
T33
Nicolas Colsaerts
BEL
-1
69
T33
Pablo Larrazabal
ESP
-1
69
T33
Rafael Cabrera Bello
ESP
-1
69
T33
Richard Bland
ENG
-1
69
T33
Richard McEvoy
ENG
-1
69
T33
Sergio Garcia
ESP
-1
69
T33
Shane Lowry
IRL
-1
69
T33
Victor Dubuisson
FRA
-1
69
T48
Brooks Koepka
USA
Par
70
T48
Chris Paisley
ENG
Par
70
T48
Guido Migliozzi
ITA
Par
70
T48
Haotong Li
CHN
Par
70
T48
Jack Singh-Brar
ENG
Par
70
T48
Lee Westwood
ENG
Par
70
T48
Matt Wallace
ENG
Par
70
T48
Maverick Antcliff
AUS
Par
70
T48
Maximilian Kieffer
GER
Par
70
T48
Raphael Jacquelin
FRA
Par
70
T48
Rasmus Hoejgaard
DEN
Par
70
T48
Richie Ramsay
SCO
Par
70
T48
Sam Horsfield
ENG
Par
70
T48
Sebastian Heisele
GER
Par
70
T48
Stephen Gallacher
SCO
Par
70
T48
Thomas Pieters
BEL
Par
70
T64
Andrea Pavan
ITA
1
71
T64
Ashun Wu
CHI
1
71
T64
Benjamin Hebert
FRA
1
71
T64
Calum Hill
SCO
1
71
T64
Darius van Driel
NED
1
71
T64
Dean Burmester
RSA
1
71
T64
Edoardo Molinari
ITA
1
71
T64
Erik Van Rooyen
RSA
1
71
T64
Jack Senior
ENG
1
71
T64
Jamie Donaldson
WAL
1
71
T64
Jordan Smith
ENG
1
71
T64
Justin Walters
RSA
1
71
T64
Matthew Southgate
ENG
1
71
T64
Mikko Korhonen
FIN
1
71
T64
Robert Rock
ENG
1
71
T64
Romain Langasque
FRA
1
71
T64
Steven Brown
ENG
1
71
T81
Akshay Bhatia
USA
2
72
T81
Alvaro Quiros
ESP
2
72
T81
Antoine Rozner
FRA
2
72
T81
David Micheluzzi
AUS
2
72
T81
Ernie Els
RSA
2
72
T81
Haydn Porteous
RSA
2
72
T81
Ian Poulter
ENG
2
72
T81
Nacho Elvira
ESP
2
72
T81
Kalle Samooja
FIN
2
72
T81
Nino Bertasio
ITA
2
72
T81
Paul Waring
ENG
2
72
T81
Robert MacIntyre
SCO
2
72
T81
Zander Lombard
RSA
2
72
T94
Ashley Chesters
ENG
3
73
T94
David Drysdale
SCO
3
73
T94
Grant Forrest
SCO
3
73
T94
Jeung-Hun Wang
KOR
3
73
T94
Jorge Campillo
ESP
3
73
T94
Lorenzo Gagli
ITA
3
73
T94
Martin Kaymer
GER
3
73
T94
Masahiro Kawamura
JPN
3
73
T94
Matthew Jordan
ENG
3
73
T94
Oliver Farr
WAL
3
73
T94
Oliver Fisher
ENG
3
73
T94
Patrick Reed
USA
3
73
T94
Scott Jamieson
SCO
3
73
T94
Tapio Pulkkanen
FIN
3
73
T94
Thomas Aiken
RSA
3
73
T94
Thomas Bjorn
DEN
3
73
T94
Thomas Detry
BEL
3
73
T111
Benjamin Poke
DNK
4
74
T111
David Horsey
ENG
4
74
T111
Gaganjeet Bhullar
IND
4
74
T111
Joachim B. Hansen
DEN
4
74
T111
Michael Lorenzo-Vera
FRA
4
74
T111
Min-Woo Lee
AUS
4
74
T111
Ricardo Santos
POR
4
74
T111
Sebastian Crampton
USA
4
74
T119
Ahmed Marjan
MOR
5
75
T119
Bernd Wiesberger
AUT
5
75
T119
Cormac Sharvin
NIR
5
75
T119
David Law
SCO
5
75
T119
Joakim Lagergren
SWE
5
75
T119
Julien Guerrier
FRA
5
75
T119
Oliver Wilson
ENG
5
75
T119
Othman Al Mulla
KSA
5
75
127
Wade Ormsby
AUS
6
76
128
Brandon Stone
RSA
8
78
T129
Callum Shinkwin
ENG
9
79
T129
Jamie Elson
ENG
9
79
T131
Faisal Alsalhab
KSA
12
82
T131
Saud Al Sharif
KSA
12
82