Saudi International: Ones to watch

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Who will be the first golfer to lift the Saudi International trophy? (AFP)
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Updated 30 January 2019
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Saudi International: Ones to watch

  • Strong field at the inaugural Saudi International, with big names such as Dustin Johnson in contention.
  • Four of world's top five to tee it up at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club

LONDON: The Saudi International sees a host of big names tee it up at the untested Royal Greens Golf and Country club. Here we run the rule over the main contenders to lift the trophy come Sunday afternoon.

JUSTIN ROSE, one Major, world No.1

WHAT HE SAID

“We’ve seen in the past players who play well in the Middle East early in the year going on to have very successful seasons. Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year, for example, or Danny Willett three years ago winning in Dubai and then at the Masters. The Saudi International is an opportunity for players to lay down a marker in a strong field.”

ARAB NEWS SAYS

Rose comes into the tournament on the back of a hugely impressive win at Torrey Pines. He will be looking for a good week against a strong field to lay down another marker that he is the man to beat this year.

 

BROOKS KOEPKA, three Majors, world No. 2

WHAT HE SAID

“I always want to play against the world’s best players as it helps to sharpen my game. I enjoy the intensity of coming down the back nine on Sunday with a chance to win and that is even better when you are playing against the likes of my good friend DJ or Justin or Henrik, the list goes on.”

ARAB NEWS SAYS

The big-hitting American lost his world No. 1 ranking to Rose and will be out to show that with his three Majors in the past 18 months he is the true best in the business.



 

DUSTIN JOHNSON, one Major, World No. 3

WHAT HE SAID

“There are so many great players, you’ve got to bring your game every single week. It’s very important to come prepared every wee, no matter where you're playing, what the tournament is and compete. It’s definitely going to be a good year, and I am definitely looking to challenge Rosey for the top spot.”

ARAB NEWS SAYS

There is a sense that having continued to win titles at a greater pace than anyone else over the past few years DJ is impatient for more Majors and returning to top spot. A good showing here will set his stall for the season.


 

BRYSON DECHAMBEAU, Dubai Desert Classic champions, World No. 5

WHAT HE SAID

“I’ve kind of already checked one off the box, winning internationally and winning on The European Tour. The next one is going to be a major. I've got to get that done. I know I can. I know I've got the game for it. It's just about making, again, the proper adjustments and taking control of the pressure when it comes.”

ARAB NEWS SAYS

DeChambeau is golf’s man of the moment. The idiosyncratic golfer won last week in Dubai and the feeling is that he is going to the very top of the game. For a host of reasons the American is one to watch.

 


SERGIO GARCIA, 2017 US Master champion, world No. 27

WHAT HE SAID

“Any win, any win is good. It doesn’t matter where, I’ve always said it, it doesn't matter where or against who. Winning nowadays is tough anywhere in the world. But when you are playing against the quality of this field it means a bit more. It would be nice to win here and that’s what I am going to try to do.”

ARAB NEWS SAYS

The Spaniard ended last year with another win at Valderrama and is looking to start the year on a high has won in Dubai and likes desert style golf so will be expecting a good finish.

 


Lewis Hamilton tells rivals ‘catch me if you can’

Updated 20 February 2019
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Lewis Hamilton tells rivals ‘catch me if you can’

  • Five-time world champion feeling confident of a sixth crown ahead of new season.
  • Pre-season testing going well in Barcelona.

BARCELONA: Lewis Hamilton has warned his rivals they had better get ready to catch his dust as he is feeling “better than ever” ahead of the season.
The 34-year-old Briton enjoyed a near flawless run to secure his fifth drivers’ title last year. He won 11 of the 21 races to beat Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel with two races to spare, and he expects the Italian marque to once again keep him on his toes.
“Ferrari are very strong,” Hamilton said in Barcelona on the third day of pre-season testing.
“It appears they have a better package than last year, which means it will be a bigger challenge for us.
“In the last few years, Ferrari has looked good from the very beginning so that’s to be expected.”
But he said it would be a mistake to draw any hard and fast conclusions from the evidence thrown up by testing.
“We’ll have a better idea I guess this time next week where we stand but still then we won’t know what fuel loads everybody is on and who is showing their cars and who isn’t.”
Hamilton, with a new two-year deal that will earn him £40 million ($52 million) a season, is buzzing after the winter recess.
“I feel in the best shape that I’ve been in,” he assured his fans, as he embarks on his quest for a sixth championship and record sixth consecutive constructors’ crown for Mercedes.
On a sixth title he shrugged: “I am not even focusing on that. It’s a new season, a new year, a new chapter and we have to approach like it’s our first.
“We’re going for number one, that’s how I approach it.
“But it’s not something that I allow my peers to talk about. It’s not what we are here for to focus on that number.”
He dismissed out of hand any notion of complacency setting in at his all-conquering team.
“We are always driven to do something new and to break boundaries and do stuff that no one else has done before but we are fully aware of the work that it will take to deliver something like that and it’s by no means like ‘yeah we are going for the sixth’ like it’s a relaxed thing.
“It’s not like that.”
Hamilton’s bid for title number six begins at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 17.