Golf Saudi has announced the professional and amateur invitations for the 2021 Saudi International, which is taking place at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, from 4-7 February.
Invitees will get the chance to compete alongside a world-class field including Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry, Tyrrell Hatton, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood and defending champion Graeme McDowell.
Saudi Arabia’s Othman Almulla made history in 2019 when he became the first golfer from the Kingdom to turn professional and compete internationally as a professional and is receiving his third invitation from Golf Saudi to compete in one of the European Tour’s leading events. Saud Al Sharif will be the second Saudi Arabian player in the field, securing his invite as the leading amateur golfer in Saudi Arabia having impressed on the 2020 MENA tour last year when he shot the lowest round of the day on the MENA Tour’s fourth event of the 2020 season, having also finished second in the GCC Championship in Oman at the start of the year.
One of golf’s most talked about rising stars, America’s Akshay Bhatia, who turns 19 at the end of January, will also be in the field. Formerly the USA’s top-ranked junior, Bhatia turned professional after becoming the first high-schooler to compete on the US Walker Cup team in 2019, and is already well known for his impressive ball-striking and 125mph swing speed.
England’s Harry Hall, who also made his professional debut following the 2019 Walker Cup, has just completed his first year as pro having concentrated largely on the PGA Korn Ferry Tour where he impressed with three top-ten finishes.
Joining their fellow countryman and defending Open Champion Shane Lowry, and boosting the Irish representation in the field, are Paul Dunne and Cormac Sharvin. Dunne is a European Tour winner, while Sharvin secured his European Tour card through finishing the 2019 Challenge Tour season in 11th position on the Road to Mallorca Rankings following six top-five finishes.
The final professional invitation goes to Japan’s Takumi Kanaya, the most exciting talent to join the professional ranks in 2020. A former No.1 on the World Amateur Golf Rankings, Kanaya only turned professional in October and immediately underlined his potential by winning the Dunlop Phoenix Masters on the JGTO in only his fourth start as a professional.
Golf Saudi continue to showcase the stars of tomorrow with two more amateur invitations, one for Jordan’s Shergo Kurdi and the other for Spain’s Eduard Rousaud Sabate. Kurdi, a 17-year-old amateur who lives in Surrey, became the first player from the GCC and Middle East countries to earn OWGR points with his runner-up finish on the MENA Tour at the Journey to Jordan tournament held at the Ayla Golf Club in Aqaba. Rousaul Sabate currently sits at a career high No.4 on the World Amateur Golf Ranking having won twice in 2020, joining his fellow countrymen Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Sergio Garcia.
Majed Al Sorour, CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi, said: “We are very excited to announce these invitations for the upcoming Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers. The inclusion of these players will inspire the next generation to follow in their footsteps and support our goal to grow the game of golf in the Kingdom.”
“As we embark on the third edition of the tournament, it feels right that we are also supporting so many young international players who look set to be the stars of tomorrow. We hope their experience of Saudi Arabia will be their first of many visits and they will be part of our journey in developing develop a vibrant and sustainable golfing nation.”