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.


Liverpool seek home comforts after Atletico wake-up call

Updated 2 min 56 sec ago

Liverpool seek home comforts after Atletico wake-up call

  • There is no need for such a dramatic turnaround when Atletico visit on March 11

LONDON: Liverpool’s return to the scene of their Champions League triumph last season was not a happy one.

A 1-0 defeat by Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Tuesday leaves the European champions relying on another Anfield comeback to progress.

Jurgen Klopp’s men famously thrashed Barcelona 4-0 in their last knockout tie at home to overturn a 3-0 deficit in last season’s semifinals.

There is no need for such a dramatic turnaround when Atletico visit on March 11. But after being frustrated by how an intense atmosphere at the Wanda Metropolitano affected the performance of Polish referee Szymon Marciniak, Klopp is keen to harness the power of Anfield.

“We speak from time to time (about) the power of Anfield and the power of a stadium and what a stadium can have, tonight we saw it,” said Klopp.

“The whole stadium only wanted a result, the stadium was not here for seeing sensational football. They wanted a result and they got the result, so they are now happy in this moment and we are not.”

Liverpool were unhappy at the award of a throw-in which led to Saul Niguez’s fourth-minute opener, while Klopp replaced Sadio Mane at half-time for fear Atletico’s play-acting would earn the Senegalese star a second yellow card.

Defeat was just the Reds’ second all season with a senior team. A near flawless Premier League campaign has them 25 points clear at the top of the table and romping toward a first league title in 30 years.

The Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup have also been won along the way, but there is a pattern in the European champions struggling to hit top form on the road in the Champions League.

Liverpool have lost seven of their last 11 away games in Europe’s premier club competition — more than they have lost in their last 106 Premier League games.

For all its TV-revenue fueled wealth, that raises questions of the overall quality of the Premier League, particularly with the likes of Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Arsenal at a low ebb.

Yet, even amidst that run, Liverpool have reached back-to-back Champions League finals and have never lost a two-legged European tie in four seasons under Klopp.

If travel sickness has been a problem, fortress Anfield has always more than made amends.

Roma and Manchester City were also blown away in the latter stages in recent years before the miracle of Barcelona.

“The second half will be played in a different stadium, in our stadium, and that will be different as well,” added Klopp. “Atletico will feel that and that’s what we are looking forward to.”

Three weeks from now Liverpool will also be fully up to speed. They were also sluggish in a 1-0 win at bottom-of-the-table Norwich City on Saturday after a two-week winter break.

A similar 11-day break last year due to an early exit from the FA Cup allowed Klopp to take his players on a warm-weather training camp. On their return, they drew five of their next seven games, which ultimately cost them the title.

However, they finished the season in supreme form, winning 14 of their last 15 matches to be crowned champions of Europe and register a club record Premier League points tally of 97.

As long as they find their groove in time, Klopp’s men will be confident of breaking Atletico’s resistance on home soil.