World No 1 Dustin Johnson will head a stellar field for next year’s Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers, with reigning US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau also confirmed.
The third edition of the tournament, to run at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club from February 4-7, also welcomes back defending champion Graeme McDowell.
Major champion Johnson, who won the inaugural Saudi International in 2019 and then finished runner-up earlier this year, said in a press release on Monday: "I am really looking forward to returning to Saudi Arabia for a third consecutive year.
"I’ve really enjoyed both of my visits and love the golf course, as evidenced by my win and runner-up finish. The scuba diving experiences I’ve had in the Red Sea have also been amazing.
“It’s been pretty neat to witness the growth of golf in the kingdom and it’s definitely one of the reasons I like to play in Saudi Arabia.
"Golf has been such an important part of my life, so it’s nice to get the chance to play a part in introducing it to a new audience.
“In just the past two years you can see the interest level rising in Saudi, especially amongst the juniors.”
DeChambeau, meanwhile, has enjoyed a breakout season thanks in part to his unique approach to the game. The American sealed a first major title last month by emerging victorious from the US Open at Winged Foot, finishing six shots ahead of second.
The current world No 6, DeChambeau has contested the Saudi International before, coming home tied-6th last year.
“I have undergone a lot of changes since I last visited the kingdom as I work to fulfil my golf potential and I think you can say the same about golf in Saudi as it continues to develop as Golf Saudi endeavour to grow the game,” he said.
“I finished a credible T6 in 2019 and I obviously hope to finish a little better this year but I am also really interested to see what has changed and how golf has grown since my last visit.”
The man with the title is McDowell, after the Northern Irishman prevailed last year by two shots to land his 11th European victory and first in nearly six years.
The 2010 US Open champion said: “From the high of winning the 2020 Saudi International in February against such an amazing field we very quickly had to contend with all that Covid-19 has thrown at us since, so I think I was lucky to be able to hold onto that awesome winning feeling through the darker parts of lockdown.
“I am really looking forward to getting 2020 over and having a fresh start to 2021 and, from what I’ve heard about how the field is shaping up, it sounds like almost everyone has decided to make that fresh start in Saudi Arabia.
“I don’t think I have ever seen a tournament establish itself so quickly on the player’s schedules as the Saudi International has. The Royal Greens Golf & Country Club is a great Championship course and huge credit to the Saudi Golf Federation for gathering such a world class field as they look to inspire a new generation of golfers in the kingdom.”
Next February’s event will conclude a busy period for professional golf in Saudi, with the kingdom hosting two debut ladies’ events next month: the Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by PIF, and the Saudi Ladies Team International.