Jeddah - Four-time
Major champion and recent Presidents Cup International team captain, Ernie Els,
has confirmed his return to the Saudi International from January 30 to February 2, 2020.
Having come agonisingly close to masterminding an
historic win for the Internationals against team USA in Australia last week,
Els becomes the latest golfing icon to join the world-class field at Royal
Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City.
Not only will he line up against world No 1
Brooks Koepka, in addition to Team USA stalwarts Dustin Johnson and Patrick
Reed, there will also be a number of European Tour stars in attendance, including
Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry and Henrik Stenson.
Known for his effortless power and free-flowing swing,
‘The Big Easy’ has been one of the game’s most recognisable and successful
golfers for almost three decades. Having recently turned 50, Els will arrive in
the Kingdom next year looking to add to his 71 career titles worldwide, which
also saw him ascend to the prestigious position of world No 1 in 1997.
“I may have just turned 50, but I still want to tee it
up against the best players in the world and the way this tournament is shaping
up, it will be the biggest field in golf at the start of next year,” said Els,
who made his debut in the event earlier this year.
“I have really enjoyed
playing in Saudi Arabia previously. The course was in great condition last time
and an extremely enjoyable layout with plenty of birdie opportunities. The Saudi
Golf Federation is doing a lot to grow the game in the Kingdom and I am pleased
to be part of helping their vision to grow the game.”
Els has made a number of visits to Saudi Arabia in
recent years to oversee the development under way in the country, including an
appearance as part of a golf industry panel at the Future Investment Initiative
event, held in Riyadh from October 29-31. While on-site, he also met Golf
Saudi’s new ambassadors, who themselves will be heading to Royal Greens Golf &
Country Club next March to compete in a new Ladies European Tour event - the
first of its kind in the Kingdom.
Royal Greens Golf &
Country Club lies along the spectacular Red Sea coastline and sits amongst a
series of stunning residential and recreational facilities. The club boasts a
championship golf course, world-class practice facilities and a
state-of-the-art clubhouse, which has seen the venue voted the ‘World’s Best
Golf Clubhouse 2019’ and ‘Best Course in Saudi 2019’ by the World Golf Awards.
His Excellency Yasir
Al-Rumayyan, chairperson of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi, said: “Ernie
Els is one of the most iconic golfers in the game and to see him play alongside
the likes of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka is an incredible
opportunity for the people of Saudi Arabia. Ernie is a leader in the game and
watching how he nearly pulled off a fantastic victory with the International
Team last week demonstrates exactly how respected he is. We are excited to
welcome him back to help us build golf in the region.”
Those competing in the inaugurual tournament came in for heavy criticism as it took place just months after the killing of US-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018.
Golfing superstars Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods have both turned down spots in next year's field.
Johnson is the defending champion.
Confirmed list of players: