News / Tournaments & Events 3 months ago

Star names eye Saudi Open presented by Public Investment Fund trophy as enthusiasm for sport in the Kingdom catches their eye

Riyadh, 13 December 2023: Henrik Stenson, Kevin Na and Kieran Vincent all have their sights set on lifting the Saudi Open presented by Public Investment Fund trophy on Sunday afternoon, but the LIV Golf stars are just as impressed by the progress of golf in the Kingdom ahead of the tournament. 

Following its elevation to the Asian Tour, the final event of the 2023 calendar will see 120 players from across the world tee off on Thursday morning including the likes of Stenson and Na, who have enjoyed long careers at the top of the game. 

Stenson has won 22 times as a professional, including the Open Championship in 2016, and is hopeful of ending the year on a high. He is also enjoying the opportunity to pass on advice to some of the less experienced golfers in Riyadh, with Golf Saudi inviting a number of professionals and amateurs from the Middle East and North Africa to compete. 

Stenson said: “I haven’t won anything this year, even though we’ve had a couple of good finishes on LIV. I’ll try my hardest and though I’m in the middle of my off season, I thought this was a great opportunity to see where I’m at and to see what things I need to work on going into the 2024 season. I’ll do my best and see if we can contend when it comes to Sunday. 

“It’s always a great opportunity for golfers. I remember as a young golfer I played in professional events in Sweden and you benefit from playing with players who are better than you are at the time. 

“I’m happy to try and give advice and answer any questions they might have. Other than that, hopefully they watch the best players that are here this week and can get inspired and learn a few things to become better themselves.” 

For Na, the opportunity to compete on the Asian Tour, where he won his first professional golf tournament in 2002, and to visit Riyadh was too good to turn down. Na has spent time learning about the plans to help the sport continue to grow in the country and praised the work of Golf Saudi. 

Na said: “I wanted to check out Riyadh. His Excellency always told me how great it was and I have always wanted to know what the city is like. I grew up playing on the Asian Tour in my early career, so I always enjoy coming back and playing Asian Tour. My expectation is to have fun this week, but my goal is to win. 

“My impression is that golf in Saudi is booming! I have been told about Golf Saudi’s plans for the future, how many golf courses they are building and how they’re training the next generation and introducing them to the game of golf, and I think it’s great.” 

Vincent travelled to Riyadh immediately after finishing second in the LIV Golf Promotions event in Abu Dhabi at the weekend, securing his LIV Golf card for the 2024 season in the process. That achievement is yet to sink in for the Zimbabwean, who has been inspired by witnessing the young children enjoying their golf at clinics ahead of the tournament. 

Vincent said: “I don’t think five days is enough - I think it will take a while to all sink in. At the end of the day, I am super grateful for the opportunity to play and now I am just excited to be out here. It’s a great place and golf in Saudi is obviously growing. 

“It’s great to have the opportunity to compete against not only Henrik and Kevin, but a bunch of the other guys out here this week. It’s not only about having good fields, because this year’s field is strong, but to also have the Saudi golfers themselves compete. Having watched them and seen their results last week, it’s good to see that the game of golf is growing. I have seen the fan zones and seen loads of kids come out here to be part of the golf and to take part in golf activities. I think golf in Saudi is on an upward trend!”