The Saudi International in its third year is shaping up as one of the strongest fields on the European Tour with commitments from Masters champion Dustin Johnson, US Open winner Bryson DeChambeau and a curious one from Paul Casey.
Tournament organisers said on Thursday that seven members of Europe's 2018 Ryder Cup team will play the Saudi International on February 4-7, the same week of the Phoenix Open on the PGA Tour.
World No.1 Johnson won the inaugural Saudi International in 2019 and was runner-up to Graeme McDowell earlier this year.
DeChambeau also played the first year, while Phil Mickelson signed up again for 2021 after a tie for third in Saudi last year.
The field will have three reigning major champions, with Open Championship winner Shane Lowry also playing.
The surprise was Casey, who made it a point of saying he would not be playing when the tournament began.
He noted his sponsorship of UNICEF, which is on his golf bag, and said he would prefer to "sit this one out."
In an interview with the London-based Independent that spring, however, Casey said, "I would be a hypocrite" if he received appearance money to play the Saudi International.
Players were criticised for their participation, especially the first year, because it was held some three months after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote critically of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in columns for The Washington Post.
Johnson said he was going to play golf, not support the government.
Mickelson was criticised in part for skipping the Phoenix Open, where he is among the biggest draws as a past champion and Arizona State graduate.
For the Europeans, a strong field could go a long way toward their bid to make the Ryder Cup team through world ranking points.
Europe's qualification process was frozen when the matches were postponed until September 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It resumes in January.
Casey renewed his membership with the European Tour to play in the Ryder Cup two years ago with others from that winning team in France who have committed to the Saudi International being Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Henrik Stenson.