JEDDAH: Some of the world’s biggest golf stars will tee off in Saudi Arabia at the end of this month, as the Kingdom prepares to host its first international golf tournament.
The sport’s top three male golfers are taking part in the Saudi International golf tournament, starting Jan. 31, as part of the PGA European Tour.
World No. 1 Justin Rose is headlining the field and is flying the flag for England, alongside fellow countryman Ian Poulter.
The US contingent features three-time major winner and world No. 2 Brooks Koepka, world No. 3 Dustin Johnson and world No. 5 Bryson DeChambeau.
Four-time major champion and 71-time worldwide winner Ernie Els is also on the entry list.
The tournament prize exceeds $3.5 million.
Rose said he was pleased to be participating in the “historic event” and was eager to compete in the latest European Tour championship.
Another player taking part in the tournament, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, said: “I have been playing in the PGA European Tour since 2001 and was lucky to play golf around the world, but I have never visited Saudi Arabia, so it is great to be visiting the Kingdom now after hearing about its great plans to promote and develop the game. I am excited to compete against the world’s best players.”
The Saudi Arabian Golf Federation (SGF), supported by the General Sport Authority, last year struck a deal with the European Tour for the Kingdom to host a series of prestigious tournaments.
“Hosting this event reflects our efforts to make this tournament one of the world’s most important golf championships,” Yasser Al-Ramian, president of the SGF, told Arab News. “We have aspired from the outset to organize an event that brings to light the Kingdom’s civilized image and bright future, and we are on the way to achieve this.”
The event, which runs over four days and ends Feb. 3, takes place at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).
KAEC CEO Ahmed Linjawy said the venue aimed to become the region’s leading tourism and entertainment destination to meet the aspirations of the Vision 2030 reform plan.
The tournament’s organizing committee said there would be a Family Golf Village with activities for all age groups, including golf lessons, competitions, food stalls, live entertainment and an auditorium for visitors to interact with the professionals.
“The Saudi International golf tournament is an important milestone in the Kingdom’s sports history as it provides the opportunity for golf enthusiasts from around the world to watch their favorite golf professionals play in Saudi Arabia,” SGF member Majed Sorour told Arab News.
“Our goal is to raise the tournament’s status beyond being a sports event only, but to become an exceptional family entertainment experience for all family members. We invite everyone to join us in the distinctive experience, which also allows visitors to learn about golf.”
The Family Golf Village was the first entertainment event accompanying the tournament and the SGF was working with other bodies to organize and announce more entertainment events, he added.
Tournament organizers have asked people to not use their phones while players are taking a shot, and to avoid following players around the course.
Spectators are also encouraged to wear appropriate clothing, in accordance with local customs, and to refrain from public displays of affection.
Tickets for the tournament cost SR50 ($13.33).