Four-time major winner Ernie Els to tee it up in Saudi International

Four-time major winner Ernie Els to tee it up in Saudi International
Ernie Els will arrive in the Kingdom next year looking to add to his 71 career titles worldwide. (Getty Images)
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Updated 19 December 2019

Four-time major winner Ernie Els to tee it up in Saudi International

Four-time major winner Ernie Els to tee it up in Saudi International
  • Former World Number One joins star-studded field following Presidents Cup Captaincy
  • Known for his effortless power and free-flowing swing, ‘The Big Easy’ has been one of the game’s most recognisable and successful golfers for almost three decades

JEDDAH: Four-time major winner and recent Presidents Cup International Team captain Ernie Els has confirmed his return to the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers from 30 January to 2 February 2020.

Having come agonisingly close to masterminding an historic win for the Internationals against Team USA in Australia last week, Els becomes the latest golfing icon to join the world-class field at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).

Not only will he line up against World Number One Brooks Koepka, in addition to Team USA stalwarts Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed, there will also be a number of European Tour stars in attendance, including Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry and Henrik Stenson.

Known for his effortless power and free-flowing swing, ‘The Big Easy’ has been one of the game’s most recognisable and successful golfers for almost three decades. Having recently turned 50, Els will arrive in the Kingdom next year looking to add to his 71 career titles worldwide, which also saw him ascend to the prestigious position of World Number One in 1997.

“I may have just turned 50, but I still want to tee it up against the best players in the world and the way this tournament is shaping up, it will be the biggest field in golf at the start of next year,” said Els, who made his debut in the event earlier this year. “I have really enjoyed playing in Saudi Arabia previously. The course was in great condition last time and an extremely enjoyable layout with plenty of birdie opportunities. The Saudi Golf Federation is doing a lot to grow the game in the Kingdom and I am pleased to be part of helping their vision to grow the game.”

Els has made a number of visits to Saudi Arabia in recent years to oversee the development under way in the country, including an appearance as part of a golf industry panel at the Future Investment Initiative event, held in Riyadh from 29-31 October. While on-site, he also met Golf Saudi’s new ambassadors, who themselves will be heading to Royal Greens Golf & Country Club next March to compete in a new Ladies European Tour event – the first of its kind in the Kingdom.

Royal Greens Golf & Country Club lies along the spectacular Red Sea coastline and sits amongst a series of stunning residential and recreational facilities. The club boasts a championship golf course, world-class practice facilities and a state-of-the-art clubhouse, which has seen the venue voted the ‘World’s Best Golf Clubhouse 2019’ and ‘Best Course in Saudi 2019’ by the World Golf Awards.

His Excellency Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Chairman of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi, said: “Ernie Els is one of the most iconic golfers in the game and to see him play alongside the likes of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka is an incredible opportunity for the people of Saudi Arabia. Ernie is a leader in the game and watching how he nearly pulled off a fantastic victory with the International Team last week demonstrates exactly how respected he is. We are excited to welcome him back to help us build golf in the region.”

The second instalment of 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, in addition to a unique entertainment offering in the heart of KAEC.

Partner support as the tournament heads into its 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.

Enjoy the Ultimate Day Out for golf fans, friends and families with tickets now on sale, priced at 50 SAR per day or 160 SAR for a full tournament pass (four days). Exclusive concert tickets will be available soon.

For more tournament information, visit – https://www.golfsaudi.com/en-us/saudi-international/

Confirmed List of Players:

Ernie Els

Tony Finau

Sergio Garcia

Dustin Johnson

Brooks Koepka

Shane Lowry

Phil Mickelson

Patrick Reed

Henrik Stenson


Saleh’s hiring by Jets source of pride for Muslim community

Saleh’s hiring by Jets source of pride for Muslim community
Updated 16 January 2021

Saleh’s hiring by Jets source of pride for Muslim community

Saleh’s hiring by Jets source of pride for Muslim community
  • The New York Jets’ new head coach has families and community leaders excited in neighborhoods all across the US
  • The 41-year-old Saleh, expected to be formally introduced next week by the Jets, is the son of Lebanese parents and grew up in Detroit

NEW YORK: Robert Saleh has made history that extends far beyond any football field.
The New York Jets’ new head coach has families and community leaders excited in neighborhoods all across the country, celebrating the first known Muslim American to hold that position in the NFL.
That’s a source of great pride for a group that has been generally underrepresented in the league’s on-field leadership roles.
“It’s something that shows the growing diversity of our nation, the inclusion we’re trying to achieve at all levels of our society,” said Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “And I think it’s a very positive sign.”
The 41-year-old Saleh, expected to be formally introduced next week by the Jets, is the son of Lebanese parents and grew up in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan, which is home to the largest Muslim population in the United States per capita.
“I think he’s just a trailblazer for a lot of coaches who are Muslim, to let them know that they do have a chance to be a head coach,” said Lions offensive lineman Oday Aboushi, a practicing Muslim who has played in the NFL for eight seasons — including his first two with the Jets.
“He shows them you do have a chance to be a defensive coordinator, you do have a chance to grow up and have a job at the professional level,” Aboushi added. “As long as you’re professional and you’re passionate about it like he is, I think a lot of people will look to him as a trailblazer, as far as everyone feeling like they could do it themselves and it’s an attainable dream.”
After Saleh’s college playing career as a tight end at Northern Michigan ended, he got his start in coaching by working as an assistant at Michigan State, Central Michigan and Georgia before being hired as a defensive intern by the Houston Texans in 2005.
Then came stints with Seattle and Jacksonville before Saleh became San Francisco’s defensive coordinator in 2017, helping the 49ers reach the Super Bowl last year with his No. 2-ranked unit. He was a popular candidate among the seven teams looking for a new coach this offseason, and quickly emerged as the favorite for the Jets job.
Saleh, known for his energy on the sideline and being well-liked by players, impressed the Jets during his first remote interview. He was flown in a few days later for an in-person meeting with Jets chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson, president Hymie Elhai and general manager Joe Douglas at the team’s facility in Florham Park, New Jersey.
After a two-day visit, Saleh left to meet with Philadelphia for its coaching vacancy — but the Jets knew they found their new coach. The team announced Thursday night the sides reached an agreement in principle.
“As a pioneer in the sports world, Saleh will serve as an inspiration to many young American Muslims,” Selaedin Maksut, the executive director of CAIR’s New Jersey chapter, said in email to The Associated Press. “In addition to the positive impact that he’ll have on Muslims, Saleh’s presence in the field and on the screen will remind the rest of America that Muslims are a part of the fabric of this nation and proudly contribute to society. It’s a step toward tearing down walls and building bridges.
“Welcome to Jersey, brother!”
Ahmed Mohamed, the legal director of CAIR’s New York chapter, congratulated the Jets and Saleh for what he called a “historic hiring in the National Football League.” He’s optimistic it’s a sign of increasing inclusion and recognition of the Muslim community.
“For all the Muslim youth who may be told they don’t belong or can’t do something because of how they pray, we hope that when they see Mr. Saleh on national television, they will say to themselves that anything is possible and will reach for the stars,” Mohamed said in an email to the AP. “We hope Mr. Saleh’s hiring opens the door for other American Muslims in sports.”
Saleh is believed to be the third Arab American to become a head coach in the NFL. He follows Abe Gibron, who led Chicago from 1972-74, and Rich Kotite, who coached the Eagles (1991-94) and Jets (1995-96) — both of whom also had Lebanese roots.
Saleh is also just the fourth active NFL head coach who is a minority, joining Miami’s Brian Flores, Washington’s Ron Rivera and Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin.
“Robert Saleh has made history on the field and off,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Friday night. “Now he’s knocking down barriers in our own backyard. Congrats, Coach!”
While Saleh’s focus will be on restoring the Jets to respectability and not necessarily being an inspiration, he has provided a path for others to someday follow.
“Any person in a new job, their first goal is going to be performance in their job,” Hooper said. “But I think a secondary consideration might be being an example to Muslim and Arab American youth around the country, that this kind of inclusion and respect for diversity is possible.
“But I don’t think he got the job because of his ethnic or religious background. He got this job because he’s good at what he does.”