Major winners Sergio Garcia and Shane Lowry have both hailed the continued growth of golf in Saudi Arabia on the eve of the Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers.
The second-edition of the tournament kicks off tomorrow (January 30) with the European pair joined by World Number 1 Brooks Koepka, defending champion Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood and Henrik Stenson at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club. Ten Major Champions will tee it up for the US$3.5m prizemoney.
Garcia, the 2017 Masters Tournament winner and Ryder Cup stalwart, feels the two-year old event is growing fast in the region.
“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,” said Garcia.
“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 feels his game is in a good place as a huge 2020 season for the game, that includes the Olympics and a Ryder Cup, really ramp up.
"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” added Garcia.
Shane Lowry, the defending Open Champion, feels the 7,010-yards Par 70 layout suits his game. The Irishman also feels international golf stars are in a fortunate position to have an opportunity to bring the game to new locations - inspiring Saudis to get into the game.
“The golf course is very good, very much a Middle East-style golf course, and something that I like the look of it straightaway. It's in absolutely perfect condition,” said Lowry
“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, age, sizes get involved and play with other people. That's why I love the game,” added Lowry.
Saudi’s leading golfers, professional Othman Almulla and National Golf Team members, amateurs, Saud Alsharif and Faisal Salhab will all be teeing it up tomorrow. US Star Patrick Reed feels it’s a special opportunity for the local players to make in impression with the golfing world watching on.
“It's awesome seeing players from Saudi playing. I hope they play well,” said Reed.
“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.
Tickets remain available for the Ultimate Day Out at the Saudi International with day golf tickets starting from 50 SAR and 160 SAR for a full tournament pass. World class music acts will also be performing at the Saudi International with headline acts Marco Carola, Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike (January 30), Zedd and Bryan Adams (January 31) and Luis Fonsi and Gipsy Kings (February 1) all performing with tickets starting from 75 SAR