29 January 2019: The desert swing reaches a third week as a top quality field of golfers reaches the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club for the first edition of the Saudi International on the European Tour. With four of top five golfers and eight major winners in the field, the Saudi event is set to produce another thrilling spectacle for golf fans. Shubhankar Sharma, Gaganjeet Bhullar and Rayhan Thomas are the three Indians in the field, teeing off on Thursday for a total purse of $3.5mn.
Both of last week’s winners are in Saudi for this spectacular tournament. Justin Rose will fly across with the Farmers Insurance Open title on his bag from Torrey Pines. Bryson DeChambeau, the hottest golfer on the circuit, will make a shorter trip, flying across from Dubai. The world No.5 has won four of his last nine starts, a run of consistency that has the golf world intrigued and captivated.
The Saudi Golf Federation has laid out the red carpet this week, as they have spared no effort in bringing the very best in golf to play the inaugural edition of this promising tournament. Rose, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and DeChambeau are all in the field this week, besides Patrick Reed, Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia rounding off a stellar lineup of golfers.
With the Presidents Cup down the road and major aspirations along the way, Shubhankar and Gaganjeet will look to perform well this week and gain some valuable points from a high calibre field. The former is ranked 115 in the world this week while Gaganjeet Bhullar is 137th in the world. Anirban Lahiri is the only other Indian inside the top 200, ranked at 159.
The trio will need some good results soon to try and force their way into the Masters this April. While Shubhankar and Gaganjeet Bhullar golf player are in action this week, Anirban is sitting out the Waste Management Phoenix Open on the PGA TOUR.
Shubhankar missed the cut in Abu Dhabi, but bounced back well to finish T29 in Dubai. Bhullar was T27 in Abu Dhabi before finishing T38 in the Dubai Desert Classic.
Another interesting attraction this week is Shergo Kurdi, a 15-year-old YouTube sensation, whose swing is attracting rave reviews around the world. Also in the field is Min Woo Lee, a 20-year-old from Australia with a promising future. Min is younger brother to world No.6 and LPGA star Minjee Lee.