In its quest to become the European Tour’s biggest event in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s first professional tournament has received a momentous boost with the announcement of world-number-one Dustin Johnson and Masters champion Patrick Reed in the field.
Two of American golf’s biggest names will go a long way to propelling the currently unnamed event to the fore of the European Tour’s Desert Swing, with weighty competition such as the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.Embed from Getty Images
Over the past decade the Middle East has played a principle role in the European Tour’s schedule with four events stretched across six weeks in late winter making up the Desert Swing that attracts the likes of Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson year-in year-out and even Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson on occasion.
And now with a new event from January 31st to February 3rd in Saudi Arabia, the European Tour are looking to expand one of its most prominent tournament-stretches in its calendar.
To elevate an event looking to the top, you don’t get much better support than a player at the very top.
Johnson told europeantour.com: “I’m excited to make my first trip to Saudi Arabia and support this historic new event. It sounds like some amazing things are happening there, including big plans for junior and family golf development.
“It’s an honour to be part of Saudi Arabia’s golf journey from the onset.”
And Reed added: “It’s been a crazy few weeks since I won at Augusta and so much fun. I had not – at this stage – finalized anything in my schedule for next year but when I heard about the ambitious plans for golf in Saudi Arabia, I committed straight away.”
So with two of the game’s leading names already involved – plus Paul Casey and 2018 Ryder Cup captain Thomas Björn in addition – the tour is understandably quite excited by the prospects this tournament holds.
CEO Keith Pelley, continuing his efforts to innovate the European Tour, said: “We are delighted to have Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Paul Casey and Thomas Björn in the field for our first professional golf tournament in Saudi Arabia.
“Royal Greens Golf and Country Club is a spectacular venue, with world class facilities, and our players are going to absolutely love playing there,” he added.
“We are a global tour and this is an exciting opportunity for us to play in a new country which has a strong focus on golf as part of its vision for the future.”
There’s still nine months to go and virtually a whole field to be announced but, with the names that are already pencilled in, Saudi Arabia’s inaugural professional golf event is making great early headway to becoming a mainstay on the sport’s calendar.