Graeme McDowell wins Saudi International by two shots

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Graeme McDowell from Northern Ireland celebrates with the trophy after he wins the final round of the Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020. (AP)
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A beaming Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland with the trophy. (Photo courtesy: Noel A. Alipoyo / OR Media Madarat)
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Updated 02 February 2020

Graeme McDowell wins Saudi International by two shots

  • The veteran touring pro from Northern Ireland uses his wealth of experience to beat a strong field

KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY: Graeme McDowell reminded everyone that, at 40, he can still seal the deal by winning the Saudi International by two shots on Sunday.
Winless on the European Tour for five and a half years, the veteran touring pro from Northern Ireland pulled through under pressure from the biggest names in golf, including American stars Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson.
“This win is special. I’m very excited and relieved I was able to get the job done,” McDowell, fighting back tears, said following his victory.
“The birdies on 14 and 15 were just huge at the time. This is a difficult golf course — it’s unusual to win feeling as uncomfortable as I did on a lot of these holes because it’s a tough course in tough conditions. This is a huge, world-class field with the world number one with massive world ranking points.
“It’s been 10 years since I won a US Open, 10 years probably since I played the best golf of my life. I feel like I’m moving back in the right direction,” added McDowell.
As expected, the chasing pack — notably Johnson and Mickelson — mounted a back nine charge to try to overhaul McDowell’s lead.
Johnson had two eagles — on Nos. 4 and 18 — and birdie on 9 against two bogeys in a 3-under 67 card and 10 under total in a fighting finish in his defense of the title in swirling winds at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City.

“I’m pleased with the way I played, but I would have liked to given Graeme a little more pressure coming down the stretch,” said Johnson.
“It was really hard to make putts — but I hit a lot of really good shots.”
Mickelson rattled in three birdies on the trot from the second hole and was three under at the turn. He birdied the 18 to rebound from a bogey at 16 for a 67 and 9 under total, three shots behind the winner.
Thomas Pieters of Belgium mixed seven birdies and two bogeys for a 65 (33-32) to join Mickelson at 9 under, as did first-round co-leader Malaysian Gavin Green, who enjoyed an eagle-birdie finish that steadied a wild even par 70 that contained five bogeys and further birdies on the second and sixth holes.
McDowell hit the turn at level par, dropped a shot 13 that saw his two-stroke lead cut to one. But he rebounded with those back-to-back birdies from 14. Regaining enough breathing room, McDowell played conservative golf and parred the rest of the holes to post the winning total of 12 after a closing 70.
“It’s my first time in Saudi Arabia and the setup of the course was magnificent. It’s been a brilliant event and I can’t wait to return next year,” said McDowell, confirming his intention to return for the 2021 tournament to defend his title.
McDowell’s playing partner Frenchman Victor Dubuisson had his game unravel, as he finished on 4-over 74 to be at 7 under in a big group that included, among others, Spain’s Sergio Garcia (64), Mexican Abraham Ancer 67 and England’s Ross Fisher (68).


97 players, staff test positive for virus as Saudi football clubs resume training

Updated 12 July 2020

97 players, staff test positive for virus as Saudi football clubs resume training

  • Authorities introduce a range of protocols to ensure a safe return to competition

JEDDAH: Almost 100 footballers and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 as Saudi football clubs resume training for the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Football League competitions.

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation said that 1,351 tests were carried out between June 21 and July 8, resulting in 50 players and 47 administrative staff testing positive.

Matches in the professional league are set to resume on Aug. 4 after being suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which halted all sports activities in the Kingdom.

The Saudi Pro League Association and relevant authorities have introduced a range of protocols to ensure a safe return to competition.

Players are encouraged to use hand sanitizers and disinfectants before and after training. Surfaces will be cleaned and sanitized around the clock, and coaching and administrative staff must wear face masks at all times.

Staff and players will have their temperatures checked at the entrance to training grounds, which will have designated entrances and exits to avoid overcrowding. Staff will also check for symptoms among players during training sessions.

HIGHLIGHTS

• According to the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, 1,351 tests were carried out between June 21 and July 8, resulting in 50 players and 47 administrative staff testing positive.

• Matches in the professional league are set to resume on Aug. 4 after being suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which halted all sports activities in the Kingdom.

• The Saudi Pro League Association and relevant authorities have introduced a range of protocols to ensure a safe return to competition.

Pools will remain closed, while equipment including balls, goalposts and training items, as well as training spaces used by players, will be disinfected before and after use.

Staff members older than 65 and those who suffer from chronic illness will not be allowed on the field.

The federation also decided to increase the number of substitutes during a game from three to five in line with amendments approved by the International Football Association.

Players must follow social distancing rules while training and on substitute benches and in locker rooms. Exchanging shirts and handshakes are prohibited.

Games will be played without fans.

Training resumed on June 21, 2020, in line with medical protocols and precautionary measures.