The world’s top-ranked golfer and the latest major championship winner are headed for the Middle East, as Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau committed Monday to play in the Saudi International in February.
Johnson, rated No. 1 after winning the Northern Trust and the Tour Championship the past two months, and DeChambeau, who won the U.S. Open by six strokes in September at Winged Foot.
The Saudi International, an official European Tour event, is scheduled for Feb. 4-7 at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City. Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell will return to defend his championship.
Johnson won the 2019 Saudi International by two strokes, then finished two shots behind McDowell in the event this year.
“I am really looking forward to returning to Saudi Arabia for a third consecutive year,” Johnson said in a statement. “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.”
DeChambeau came in sixth place in 2019 at Royal Greens the week after earning a European Tour win in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
“I have undergone a lot of changes since I last visited the kingdom as I work to fulfill my golf potential, and I think you can say the same about golf in Saudi as it continues to develop as Golf Saudi endeavor to grow the game,” he said in a statement. “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.”
McDowell said in a statement, “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.”