Dustin Johnson will defend his crown
Dustin Johnson is a two-time winner of the Saudi International Image Credit: Supplied

The PIF Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers will return February 2nd – 5th with one of its strongest fields to date. Eleven major champions will take on Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, including the American quintet of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Bubba Watson, and Phil Mickelson with a combined 15 major titles between them. The tournament has a purse of $5 million.

Two-time PIF Saudi International winner Johnson is set to return to Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, a course he has impressive control over, having never finished outside the top-eight. The American, a real fan favourite, commented, ‘I always look forward to returning to this event, I have fond memories here 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.’

With 28 professional wins to his name, including two majors, Johnson has regularly spoken about the importance of growing the game in new regions. ‘This is the fifth consecutive year I’ve returned to 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.’

Johnson will be joined by fellow countrymen and powerhouses Koepka and DeChambeau, while the tournament will also mark Watson’s return to competitive golf following a season-ending knee injury last May. The two-time Masters champion held the clubhouse lead in the 2022 edition, forcing Harold Varner III to hole a sensational 92-foot eagle putt to claim the victory by one.

‘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. It was cool to be able to celebrate that special moment with him and see him get that maiden victory. We went on to be teammates for the rest of the year so it’s been great to see his growth since then,’ said Watson.

‘I’d obviously love to go one higher in the 2023 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 four Americans will be joined in King Abdullah Economic City by compatriot and golfing legend Phil Mickelson, marking his fourth return to the tournament. Mickelson’s highest finish came in 2020 when he finished three shots behind winner Graeme McDowell in a tie for third place.

The American stars join the previously announced defending champion Varner III and world no.3 Cameron Smith. Other household names include Englishmen Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and Lee Westwood, 2017 Masters Champion Sergio Garcia, plus Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Sihwan Kim and International Series Order of Merit winner Scott Vincent.