Top golfers Lowry, Garcia laud high-quality Saudi International

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Shane Lowry with his caddy enjoys a day out on the seaside Royal Greens Golf & Country Club course in King Abdullah Economic City. (Getty Images)
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Sergio Garcia during a practice round ahead of the Saudi International Golf Tournament. (Getty Images)
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Updated 29 January 2020

Top golfers Lowry, Garcia laud high-quality Saudi International

  • European stars ‘trying to globalize game of golf,’ support ‘exciting’ new events in different markets

JEDDAH: Major winners Sergio Garcia and Shane Lowry have hailed the “exciting” growth of golf in the Kingdom on the eve of the Saudi International.

The second edition of the tournament will see the European pair joined by world No. 1 Brooks Koepka, defending champion Dustin Johnson, US stars Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson, England’s Lee Westwood and Swede Henrik Stenson at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club.

Ten major champions will be among the players competing for $3.5 million in prize money.

Garcia, the 2017 Masters winner and Ryder Cup stalwart, said the Saudi International, powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers, was a fast-growing regional event.

“Everyone is really trying hard to make it a great event, it’s definitely on its way. It just comes down to us to put on a good show.

“The quality of this event is really good. We’re excited to be back here in Saudi. I think it’s very important to support events in new countries. At the end of the day, we are trying to globalize the game of golf.”

The 40-year-old Spaniard added that his game was in a good place for a huge 2020 season for the game, that included the Olympics and a Ryder Cup. “I feel like the short game has been quite solid for both weeks. It’s just a matter of me keeping grinding and improving on every aspect of the game.”

Irish golfer Lowry, the defending Open champion, said the 7,010-yard par 70 layout suited his game, adding that international golf stars were in the fortunate position of having an opportunity to bring the game to new locations and inspire Saudis to take part.

“The golf course is very good, very much a Middle East-style golf course, and something that I liked the look of straightaway. It’s in absolutely perfect condition.

“It’s always cool and interesting to come to new places. I find the European Tour is always like that. Golf’s a great game and we’re very fortunate to do it. People of all standards, ages, sizes get involved and play with other people. That’s why I love the game,” added Lowry.

Saudi Arabia’s leading golfers, professional Othman Almulla, and amateurs Saud Al-Sharif and Faisal Salhab will all be teeing it up Thursday.

US player Reed said: “It’s a special opportunity for the local players to make an impression with the golfing world watching on. It’s awesome seeing players from Saudi playing. I hope they play well.

“Hopefully someone can make the cut for the weekend, because it’s always special time to be here at the weekend in a golf tournament,” he added.


Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian Grand Prix

Updated 04 July 2020

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian Grand Prix

  • The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by .012 seconds

SPIELBERG, Austria: Valtteri Bottas upstaged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton on Saturday to take pole position for Formula One’s season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.
The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by .012 seconds at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in third place and Lando Norris giving McLaren a boost by finishing fourth. Verstappen has won the past two years here.
Bottas had the leading time when drivers embarked on their final laps and beat his own mark before sliding off the track into the gravel.
Hamilton was chasing a record-extending 89th career pole. He was ahead but then dropped off slightly as Bottas secured a 12th career pole.
Ferrari struggled for speed, with Charles Leclerc nearly one second behind in seventh and Sebastian Vettel failing to make it into the third and final part of qualifying, known as Q3. He starts the race from 11th on the grid.
Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season with his future in F1 uncertain.
Earlier, Hamilton posted the fastest time in morning practice. The 35-year-old British driver was also quickest in both sessions on Friday.
Midway through third practice, F1 newcomer Nicholas Latifi misjudged the exit of a turn and spun his Williams car into a protective tire wall.