Golf: Strong line-up for Saudi Arabia leg of Desert Swing
Dubai: Promising Norwegian youngster Viktor Hovland and American Ryder Cup star Tony Finau are the latest top international stars to confirm their entry for the third edition of the Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club from February 4-7.
Hovland is undoubtedly the rising star of world golf and at 23 years old, he sits at a career-high ranking of World No. 14 following his second PGA Tour win in Mexico earlier this month. Hovland turned professional in 2019 having finished as low amateur in both the 2019 Masters and the 2019 US Open and having reached top spot in the amateur world rankings. He will make his debut in Saudi Arabia as he too joins the ranks of the European Ryder Cup hopefuls looking to secure their place at Whistling Straits.
Adding to the star-studded European contingent are Martin Kaymer, Matt Wallace, Bernd Wiesberger and Danny Willett, while Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood and defending champion Graeme McDowell were announced last month.
Hovland said: “My first full year as a professional, even given all the COVID-related difficulties, has been really amazing. I would never have dreamt that I would already have two PGA Tour titles and winning the Mayakoba Golf Classic was the perfect way to finish up the year. As a European, trying to get my first European Tour victory will definitely be high on my agenda for 2021 and of course, trying to win my place on the European Ryder Cup team. I’ve only played in about six European Tour events in total so I am excited to add some into my schedule and the Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers has the most impressive field of players already confirmed so I think it’s going to be a huge week.”
World No. 18 Tony Finau joins a strong list of American players flocking to Saudi Arabia with world No. 1 and 2020 Masters Champion Dustin Johnson, 2020 US Open Champion Bryson DeChambeau, five-time Major winner Phil Mickelson and 2018 Masters Champion Patrick Reed already confirmed in the field.
Finau said: “I was unable to make my debut in 2020, so I’m really looking forward to being there alongside an especially world-class field in February. I’ve heard nothing but positive things from my fellow players about their experiences at the tournament and their visit to the Kingdom. It should be a great week and I am excited to go.”
Golf Saudi is looking to build on the momentum resulting from hosting two extremely successful weeks of Ladies European Tour events last month as interest and participation in golf continues to grow in the Kingdom.
Majed Al Sorour, CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi, said: “We fully appreciate and endorse the strength and value the best players in the world create, and from the outset made it our mission to consistently attract the strongest fields for the Saudi International.”
“2021 is another step on our journey of aligning Saudi Arabia with the highest-profile events in world golf. We continue to shine a light on our growing passion for the sport, but also the strategic measures being taken to ensure we develop a vibrant and sustainable golfing nation. Our partnership and relationship with professional golf and the world’s best players is a central tenet within our long-term investment plans. We can’t wait to welcome them to the Kingdom and to crown our third Champion.”