Johnson headlines top quality field in Asian Tour event

Johnson will be seeking a third title in Saudi. — IMG/Getty Images

THE Asian Tour’s flagship event, the Saudi International, is set to feature some quality golf when 11 major champions take on Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City.

Among the star attractions is the American quintet of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson, who between have 15 major titles.

Johnson, a two-time winner of tournament and fan-favourite, said he is as keen as ever to return to Saudi Arabia for the showdown.

“I always look forward to returning to this event,” he said. “I have fond memories there and really like the course.

“It suits my game very well and I love the challenge that the wind off the Red Sea can bring on the back nine.”

Johnson, with 28 professional wins to his credit, including the Masters and US Open, has regularly spoken about the importance of growing the game in new regions.

He added: “This is the fifth consecutive year I’ll be in Saudi Arabia and it’s been amazing to see the growth and interest in the game since 2019.

“You can see the interest level rising by the year in Saudi and it has been awesome to help introduce a sport I love to a new audience.”

Watson, who is making a return to competitive golf following a season-ending knee injury last May, held the clubhouse lead in the 2022, before Harold Varner III holed a sensational 92-foot eagle putt to win by one stroke.

“Last year was an incredible event, I did everything I could on the back nine to win, including the eagle on the last, but Harold went one step further with that insane putt,” said Watson.

“It was cool to be able to celebrate that special moment with him and see him get that maiden victory and it’s been great to see his growth since then.”

“I’d obviously love to go one better this season and win the event, but mainly I’m hoping for a healthy restart to competitive golf and want to get some solid rounds under my belt around a beautiful golf course. I always look forward to going back to this event.”

The Americans will be joined at the Feb 2 to 5 event by 2020 Graeme McDowell.

The other American who have already confirmed their participation are defending champion Varner III and world No.3 Cameron Smith.

Household names in the game, Englishmen Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and Lee Westwood, 2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia and Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Sihwan Kim and International Series Order of Merit winner Scott Vincent, will also be in the event.

The Saudi International will boast a field of 118 and carry prize money of US$5mil (RM21.15mil).

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