Masters champions Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia join Henrik Stenson in returning for Saudi International

Former Masters champions Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia (pictured) will return for the 2020 Saudi International. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 11 November 2019

Masters champions Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia join Henrik Stenson in returning for Saudi International

  • Dustin Johnson and world No. 1 Brooks Koepka confirmed their return last month
  • They will be joined by Ireland’s latest major winner Shane Lowry

JEDDAH: Former Masters champions Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia will return for the 2020 Saudi International, with 2016 Open Champion Henrik Stenson also returning, after making their Royal Greens Golf & Country Club debut earlier this year, it was announced on Monday.
They will be joined by the reigning Open Champion, Shane Lowry, who will make his first appearance when he arrives to compete for a prize fund of $3.5 million.
This follows on from defending champion Dustin Johnson and world No. 1 Brooks Koepka confirming their return last month as the event looks to build on an official strength of field rating that saw it ranked the third highest non-Major event of 2019.
Reed, who plays most of his golf on the PGA Tour but joined the European Tour in 2015, is the third high profile American to confirm their attendance and is excited to build on the positive effect the event had on introducing the game to the people of Saudi Arabia back in January.
“I loved playing in Saudi Arabia last year,” he said.
“The golf facilities at Royal Greens are world class and I was honored to be part of history at the Saudi Golf Federation’s first professional event. I was also lucky enough to be invited to one of the local schools and it was really rewarding to meet the kids and talk to them about golf and what we were doing there that week.
“To see all those school kids come out to the course and watch us play on the weekend was an incredible experience. Golf Saudi is doing a fantastic job of growing the game and I hope I can help further their progress in the future,” he added.
European Ryder Cup stars Stenson and Garcia will return to Royal Greens Golf & Country Club for a second year having both previously captured titles in the Middle East – in Dubai and Qatar, respectively – and are currently ranked 40 and 39 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
They will be joined by Ireland’s latest major winner, Lowry, who himself tasted success in the Middle East, claiming the title in Abu Dhabi en route to his famous victory at Royal Portrush back in July. He will therefore head to the Kingdom off the back of a sensational season that has seen him climb to 19 in the rankings, as he sets his sights on a maiden Ryder Cup appearance next September.
“I’ve heard a lot of the guys on Tour saying they really enjoyed the Saudi International tournament last year, so I’m looking forward to experiencing it for myself,” said Lowry, who has won five times on the European Tour.
“The golf course sounds like it’s in great condition and by all accounts the hospitality around the event is first class. I’m looking forward to playing there for the first time and continuing the European Tour’s goal of growing the game of golf in new countries.”
Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Chairman of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi, said: “We have a vision for golf to help transform Saudi Arabia and become a premier golf destination. It is therefore extremely important for us drive the game forward both here and around the world by hosting the best players at the Saudi International.
“Last year we were extremely pleased with the support we received and it will be a pleasure to welcome these four world-renowned major champions to King Abdullah Economic City and Royal Greens Golf & Country Club for the second hosting of the tournament.”
“We are delighted to have this unique international golf tournament in its second edition and excited to be welcoming back the world-renowned golfers to King Abdullah Economic City,” said Mr. Ahmed Linjawy, Group CEO of KAEC.
“KAEC aims to make the city among the top attractive tourism destination on the Red Sea in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. The Royal Greens Golf & Country Club is a stunning multi global award winning development and proud jewel of the city’s rapidly growing leisure and sport facilities offering.”
Royal Greens Golf & Country Club lies along the spectacular Red Sea coastline and is set alongside stunning residential and recreational facilities. The club not only boasts a championship golf course and world-class practice facilities but a state-of-the-art clubhouse which was recently voted the ‘Best Golf Clubhouse 2019’ and ‘Best Course in Saudi 2019’ by the World Golf Awards.
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.
Partner support as the tournament heads into the second year remains as strong as ever with SoftBank Investment Advisers, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Rolex, Saddik & Mohamed Attar, Saudi Cargo and Invest Saudi all committing to the championship for another year, with Samba joining for 2020.


Joshua reveals he’s gone back to school ahead of Ruiz rematch

Updated 06 December 2019

Joshua reveals he’s gone back to school ahead of Ruiz rematch

  • “I really started studying boxing again”: Joshua

RIYADH: Former world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has admitted that he has been hitting the books just as hard as the gym in his six-month buildup to this weekend’s epic Clash On The Dunes bout in Riyadh.

The 30-year-old revealed that, as well as sparring with up to five fighters in a row, he committed to learning as much as he could about the “science of boxing” in his preparations for the rematch following his June defeat to Mexican-American fighter Andy Ruiz.

The pair meet again on Saturday in the jewel in the crown of Saudi Arabia’s Diriyah Season — with tickets selling fast in the face of phenomenal demand.

To Joshua, the fight is his chance of redemption following Ruiz’s shock win in New York’s Madison Square Garden, so he has left no stone unturned in his quest to produce the perfect performance under the lights and with the eyes of the world watching.

“After that fight, I knew my mistakes,” he told Arab News. “That’s why I said: ‘You were the better man that day. I give you it. First-ever Mexican champion. Hats off to you.’”

He continued: “I wasn’t low because I know I’m better than that and that I’ve got a lot more I needed to give. I just knew that me and Andy are different in every aspect — the only thing we have in common is time. So I made sure I used my time wisely because I knew I was going to get it right. I knew what I needed to work on. It was more strategic planning.

“Ever since I walked into boxing I’ve been dominating. From the amateurs — bosh, championship. Turned pro — bosh, championship. You never really understand what (you have) until it’s taken (from you).

“Then I had time to think and that’s when I really started studying boxing again. There is no doubt I can fight. I’ve been fighting top-level fighters. I’ve never really had an introduction level. I’ve just been straight on. I’ve now had the time to reflect, get my head right, get my head back in the game, and boost myself again and do what I did 10 years ago: take over this division.”

When asked what his studying entailed, Joshua — who won a gold medal in the heavyweight category at the 2012 London Olympics — explained: “Loads of videos. Sometimes you can put fighters side-by-side — both 6 feet 6 inches, both weighing roughly the same amount — but you can see one is more disciplined with technique than the other, you can then see why they became more successful in their field and you learn about the discipline of following through your tactics. Stuff like that.

“You learn about when you move to the left against an orthodox fighter: Is that a dangerous move or is that a smart move to control a fighter? What does it mean to move to the right? What’s the first art of defensive boxing? It’s your feet — get out the way. You start to indulge yourself in the sweet science. Before I was more, ‘I’ve just come to fight.’ Now I’ve learned about the sweet science of the sport, which is important as well.”

In line with his learning, Joshua has ensured his 3,000-mile trip from London does not impact his training and fight preparation. In the lead-up to June’s defeat, he spent seven weeks away from home in Miami. On this occasion, he has arrived only two weeks prior — allowing him to maintain a “training camp vibe” to his buildup.

He believes he is now in the perfect place ahead of Saturday’s blockbuster bout, admitting he actually finds the actual fight the least nerve-wracking part of the whole experience.

“I just kept a training routine and focused on business: Keep my focus and get the job done,” he said. “I’m not nervous at all. I’m confident. I don’t think I’ve ever been nervous for a fight. I’ve probably been more nervous sparring. I trap myself in a dungeon, so I feel like I’m an experiment in a lab. I then come and present my efforts to you.

“That’s why I feel I’ve got so much pressure on myself, because behind closed doors I work so hard mentally and physically to try and stay at the top. I spar, like, five guys in a row who come to take my head off, and I’ve got to be sharp in every second of that round, which will ultimately (affect) what I do on fight night. Training is the hardest part, I think. That’s why I’m never nervous about a fight, because I put so much work in in the gym.”

Ruiz’s win over Joshua in June sent reverberations across all divisions of the sport, with many considering it one of boxing’s biggest ever upsets. So, could lightning strike twice?

“I think it’s kind of like an exam, isn’t it?” said Joshua. “You go through it once, you fail. Most people fail their first driving test, then they go again and prepare better, so I think I’m better prepared if I’m honest with you. You will definitely see the energy in the fight a bit different this time.”

Asked what the outcome would be if he were to suffer a second defeat to Ruiz in seven months, Joshua said: “Definitely catastrophic. But I’m not even thinking about losing. It’ll be big business when I win. I just got to keep focusing on the win.”

He added, “Everyone fails their first driving test. I think I got mine the second time.”