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.


Nadal dazzles as Sharapova hits all-time low at Australian Open

Updated 21 January 2020

Nadal dazzles as Sharapova hits all-time low at Australian Open

  • Nadal, the first player to be world No. 1 in three different decades, is still thriving at 33

MELBOURNE: Top seed Rafael Nadal turned on the style as he launched his bid for a record-equaling 20th Major title at the Australian Open on Tuesday, but falling star Maria Sharapova hit a career low.

Australia’s Nick Kyrgios also cantered into the second round, but fourth seed Daniil Medvedev had to fight his way past American Frances Tiafoe in four sets.

Nadal, one shy of Roger Federer’s Grand Slam mark, dropped only five games as he swatted aside Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien 6-2, 6-3, 6-0 in just over two hours at a sunny Rod Laver Arena.

“It was a positive start,” said the reigning Roland Garros and US Open champion, wearing a bright pink singlet and matching trainers.

“What you want in the first round is just to win, and it’s better if it’s in straight sets.”

He joins Federer and defending champion Novak Djokovic in round two as the Big Three look to tighten a stranglehold that has brought them all but one of the last 14 Australian Open titles.

Nadal, the first player to be world No. 1 in three different decades, is still thriving at 33 but it’s a different story for five-time Grand Slam winner Sharapova.

The 32-year-old, playing on a wildcard as she wrestles with a shoulder injury, lost 3-6, 4-6 to Croatian 19th seed Donna Vekic, making her an opening-round loser at three straight Grand Slams for the first time.

The future looks uncertain for the former world No. 1, who won Wimbledon when she was just 17 but has not reached a Grand Slam final since she lifted the 2014 French Open trophy.

“I can speak about my struggles and the things that I’ve gone through with my shoulder, but it’s not really in my character to,” Sharapova said.

“I was there, I put myself out there (playing). As tough as it was, I finished the match — it wasn’t the way that I wanted.”

Britain’s Johanna Konta, a two-time Slam semifinalist, also fell at the first hurdle as she battles to overcome a knee problem, losing 4-6, 2-6 to unseeded Tunisian Ons Jabeur. On a bumper day of 88 first-round matches, after rain wiped out half of Monday’s schedule, former US Open champion Marin Cilic and Milos Raonic both moved safely through.

Italy’s Fabio Fognini, two sets down against America’s Reilly Opelka when their match was suspended on Monday, returned to win it in five after a stormy encounter when both players argued furiously with the umpire.