The European Tour returns to Saudi Arabia this week for the third edition of the Saudi International. Here’s everything you need to know about the event, including course information, players to watch and TV times.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell shot 12-under-par 268 to defeat inaugural champ Dustin Johnson by two shots last year, claiming his 11th European Tour title in the process.
COURSE: Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, located in King Abdullah Economic City, opened in 2017 and was designed by European Golf Design. The 6,408-metre, par-70 layout offers views of the Red Sea and features numerous wadis (dry riverbeds that help with drainage) and four lakes, which come into play on a number of holes.
PLAYERS TO WATCH …
World No.1 Dustin Johnson absolutely loves this golf course, winning the inaugural Saudi International here in 2019 and finishing runner-up last year.
The American is set to make his first competitive appearance since the Sentry Tournament of Champions back in early January. Don’t expect much rust though … The 36-year-old hasn’t finished worse than T11 since missing the cut with two rounds of 80 at the Memorial last July.
Johnson closed out 2020 by finishing runner-up at the US PGA Championship; winning the Northern Trust; finishing second at the BMW Championship; winning the Tour Championship; finishing T6 at the US Open; finishing runner-up at the Houston Open and winning the Masters. No wonder he’s only paying $6 (Sportsbet) this week.
RIGHT: Johnson has an excellent record at Royal Greens, winning in 2019 and finishing second in 2020. PHOTO: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.
Promising Perth product Min Woo Lee shot a pair of 75s and missed the cut in Dubai last week. But the 22-year-old should be reacclimatised with Tour life now – having spent time back in Australia over the New Year and enduring stints of hotel quarantine – and finished fourth here back in 2019.
Lee averages a tick under 68 shots per round at Royal Greens from his two appearances and will be one of the longest players off the tee this week, averaging nearly 300 metres so far in 2021.
Plenty of pundits have earmarked Lee for a breakout season on an international Tour this year, so don’t be surprised to see him in contention this week.
72-HOLE RECORD: Dustin Johnson won the first edition of the Saudi International here in 2019, firing 19-under-par 261 to defeat Haotong Li by two shots.
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: No previous Australian winners.
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Scott Hend, Lucas Herbert, Min Woo Lee, Wade Ormsby and Jason Scrivener.
Round 1: Thursday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 10:30pm – 1:30am)
Round 2: Friday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 10:30pm – 1:30am)
Round 3: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 8:30pm – 1am)
Round 4: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 8:30pm – 1am)
*AEDT, check local guides