World No. 1 Brooks Koepka in defiant mood ahead of return to Saudi International at KAEC

World No. 1 Brooks Koepka shared his thoughts about his chances ahead of the European Tour event at Royal Greens & Country Club at King Abdullah Economic City. (Supplied: Saudi International)
Short Url
Updated 25 January 2020

World No. 1 Brooks Koepka in defiant mood ahead of return to Saudi International at KAEC

  • Saudi International is returning to King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) next week
  • Second edition of the tournament, which is part of the European Tour

JEDDAH: The Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers is returning to King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) next week from Jan. 30 — Feb. 2.

World No. 1 Brooks Koepka shared his thoughts about his chances ahead of the European Tour event at Royal Greens & Country Club.

Q. You’re currently on the verge of breaking into the top 10 players to have spent longest at world #1. What does that mean to you and are records something you’re driven by?
Brooks Koepka: It’s great to be world number one, and I want to stay there but being number one is really a by-product of playing well, which is my first aim. There are lots of other world-class golfers playing well at the moment and this week is a good chance to win some valuable points to keep me at the top.

Q. Your often-discussed record in majors proves that you are a golfer who can play arguably his best golf under the greatest of pressures. Where do you think this coolness on the big stage comes from?
BK: I think it’s just because I am very competitive, and I love to win. No athlete plays a sport just to take part: everyone wants to win. That drives me to play my best golf when it really matters. I also work hard off the course so that I am as prepared as I can be when I get into the heat of competition.

Q. The Saudi International marks your second tournament back from injury (knee). How are you feeling heading into it?
BK: I’m feeling really good. It’s going to be my second tournament since October, so I am excited to get back on the course and compete against some of the world’s best players. It’s never a good thing being injured but I’ve come back from injury well before. In some ways it gives you a chance to recharge and start the new year fresh.

Q. Does an injury like the one you’ve experienced change your mindset when you return?
BK: I’m playing to win. Once I’m on the course, I forget everything else and just play golf. I didn’t play my best golf here last year so I’m ready for a strong finish in Saudi.

Q. How important is it for golf to be coming to Saudi Arabia and bringing the game into a new market?
BK: It’s great to see the game growing worldwide and having played in Saudi Arabia last year, I know the positive effect the tournament had on the country.

Q. What do you hope to learn from Saudi Arabia during your time competing and how excited are you about playing in the tournament?
BK: I am really looking forward to playing at Royal Greens again as I thought the layout was really impressive. I hope my experience playing in this event last year will allow me to contend for this year’s title.

Q. More young people in Saudi Arabia are watching sport or taking up sport. What would you say to encourage them to take up golf and what can they learn from the sport?
BK:
It’s great to see so many young people wanting to get into the game. If you enjoy watching it, you will certainly love playing it.

Q. What’s the ambition for 2020 after such strong seasons in 2018 and 2019?
BK:
Right now, I just want to get back playing. I’m looking forward to a strong season and being in contention in all of the tournaments I play in, which come September will put me in a strong position for the Ryder Cup. As far as I am concerned, the Saudi International is the most important tournament in front of me right now.

Q. Many people in Saudi Arabia will not have attended a golf championship. What can they expect, and what do fans get from watching the golf live and up close that is just impossible to experience through the TV?
BK:
I think coming to a golf event is the best way to watch the game. You are part of the event, you can see exactly what the players are going through at any point. You can also follow your favorite golfers around the course all day, which sometimes the TV doesn’t do depending on who you want to follow.


India’s cricket great Virat Kohli not ready to ease leadership workload

Updated 19 February 2020

India’s cricket great Virat Kohli not ready to ease leadership workload

  • ‘It’s been about eight years now that I’ve been playing almost 300 days a year’
  • ‘The team wants a lot of my contribution in the next two or three years, so that we can ease into another transition’

WELLINGTON: Virat Kohli admitted Wednesday that captaining India in all three cricketing formats was grueling but insisted he was not yet ready to ease his leadership burden.
Speaking ahead of the opening Test against New Zealand in Wellington on Friday, Kohli, 31, said stepping back was on his mind, but not for a few years.
“It’s not a conversation to hide away from,” he told reporters. “It’s been about eight years now that I’ve been playing almost 300 days a year.
“With the traveling, practice sessions and the intensity being right up there all the time, it does take a toll on you.”
Asked about fellow players who had dropped one or more forms of the game in order to extend their careers, Kohli replied: “I’m not in that space at the moment.”
“Periodic breaks for me seem to work pretty OK,” he added.
“At a time when the body doesn’t respond as well, maybe at around 34, 35, you might have a different conversation, but for the next two or three years I have no issues.”
Kohli, who took over the Test captaincy in late 2014, said he wanted to ensure the Indian team was in a good place when he finally relaxed his grip on the reins.
“The team wants a lot of my contribution in the next two or three years, so that we can ease into another transition, which is what we faced about five or six years ago,” he said.
“The mindset is obviously on the larger picture and from that point of view, I am preparing myself for a rigorous three years.”
Kohli backed rookie opening batsmen Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw to shine at Wellington’s Basin Reserve, where India have not won a Test since 1968.
“These guys have no baggage, they’re not desperate in any way to perform here,” he said.
“They play with a fearlessness that can motivate the whole team and give us the kind of starts we want.”
Kohli expected the notorious Wellington wind to play a role in the match, saying it had to be carefully considered when weighing up bowling options.
“Wind in this stadium more than any other in the world plays a massive, massive role,” he said.