Golf champions Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson to return for Saudi International tournament

World number one Brooks Koepka has confirmed their return to the Saudi International golf tournament. (Supplied)
Updated 08 October 2019

Golf champions Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson to return for Saudi International tournament

  • Johnson and Koepka will return to the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club on Jan. 30, 2020
  • Koepka praised the tournament, calling it the “best” he has played in the region

JEDDAH: Defending champion Dustin Johnson and world No. 1 Brooks Koepka have confirmed their return to the Saudi International, a European Tour event, which takes place in King Abdullah Economic City at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club Jan. 30 to Feb. 2. 

World No. 3 Johnson, raced to a two-shot victory to claim his first regular European Tour title at the inaugural championship earlier this year, using it as a springboard for further dominant displays this season.

After winning in Saudi Arabia, the 35-year-old American captured his sixth World Golf Championship by four strokes at the WGC-Mexico Championship, recorded runner-up finishes at the Masters and the PGA Championship and chalked up three further top 10 finishes.

He will be joined in the Kingdom by Koepka, who will return to Royal Greens Golf & Country Club after another stellar season that has seen him claim a fourth major title at the US PGA Championship, in addition to a maiden WGC title at the Fed-Ex St. Jude Classic.

The tournament, which will feature on the European Tour schedule for the second year in 2020, continues to showcase its intent to become a leading event on the golfing calendar. Johnson and Koepka are the first global stars to join the field, which will compete for a prize fund of $3.5 million.

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, chairman of Golf Saudi, said: “Dustin and Brooks are two of the best players in the world and we are extremely pleased to welcome them back to the Kingdom. Last year was the first step toward realizing our dream of opening Saudi Arabia up to the world and showcasing the beginnings of our vision for the country. Royal Greens Golf & Country Club proved to be an impressive host venue last year and we are excited to be welcoming back more of the world’s best players to King Abdullah Economic City in January.”

Johnson, who fired a course-record round of 61 en-route to victory, said: “I really enjoyed my trip to Saudi Arabia early this year and my game certainly suited the layout at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club. I have very good memories from the week and look forward to defending my title next year. It’s great to see how Golf Saudi has strengthened its commitment to create a world-class golf event and its plans to grow golf in the region are in full swing. It’s an honor to be a part of it.”

Koepka, a four-time major champion, said: “I’m excited to be returning to Saudi Arabia, after an enjoyable visit early this year. The golf course is one of the best I’ve played in the region, with incredible scenery, including some breathtaking views of the Red Sea. The event is an opportunity to showcase the work being done to grow the game of golf in the Kingdom, which was evidenced by the enthusiastic fans last year. It is great to be involved with the initiative and I look forward to seeing the progress Golf Saudi has made in the past year.”

Royal Greens Golf & Country Club lies along the spectacular Red Sea coastline and boasts a championship golf course, state-of-the-art clubhouse and world-class practice facilities, alongside stunning residential and recreational facilities.

Aiming to attract the best players in the world, the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers will place a special focus on families, community, charity and junior development as the Kingdom looks to develop its golfing pedigree.

South Korea football team departs for World Cup qualifier in Pyongyang

Updated 53 min 23 sec ago

South Korea football team departs for World Cup qualifier in Pyongyang

BEIJING: South Korean footballers departed for Pyongyang on Monday to play a World Cup qualifier against North Korea amid deadlocked talks over the North’s nuclear arsenal.
The teams — with Tottenham’s star forward Son Heung-min included in the South Korean squad — are expected to face each other at the Kim Il Sung Stadium on Tuesday.
This will be the first competitive men’s game between the two sides to be held in Pyongyang, and has raised hopes for new momentum in ties between the two Koreas.
But Pyongyang refused to hold direct talks with Seoul on the logistics for the match, denying South Korean fans and journalists permission to travel with the team.
South Korean players said the absence of cheering fans will be a first.
“It’s much better to play in a packed stadium rather than an empty one, but I think we’ll be able to play a good match if we use it as motivation,” said defender Kim Min-jae before boarding a flight to Pyongyang at Beijing airport.
The South Korean footballers were accompanied by a delegation of 55 people, limited to players, coaches and staff.
Broadcasters in the South said that plans to air the match live had fallen apart, with some media reporting that there may be attempts to carry the North Korean feed.
The match comes in the wake of a series of North Korean missile tests that raised tensions in the region, and after the breakdown of talks with the United States over Pyongyang’s weapons programs.