Sport - Golf - Shiv Kapur
Shiv Kapur preparing for this week's Saudi International on the Asian Tour Image Credit: Supplied

The golf course at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club is in great shape for this week’s $5 million PIF Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers that takes place tomorrow (Thursday) and finishes on Sunday.

The wind was up for the practice rounds, a very different direction to last year, and very gusty.

The wind always plays a big factor here at King Abdullah Economic City and being on the correct side of the draw, like an Open Championship, can be make or break for your week.

My overall game feels in good shape and, after my injury to miss the last few events of 2022, I feel I have really put in the effort in the off season to be ‘match fit’ for this the first event on the 2023 Asian Tour season.

Let’s hope it pays dividends this season.

It is always nice to get off to a good start to the year, this is my 19th season on tour, especially as this week boasts the largest prizefund of the Asian Tour season.

I am hoping that with me being based in Dubai I have an advantage in this three week swing in the Middle East: in Saudi, Oman and Qatar. I am used to the conditions, the climate, the time zones and everything else.

This will be the second time I am playing in the Saudi International, and hopefully can use my experience to chalk out a game plan to get around the European Golf Design layout that measures 7,048 yards and a par 70.

Last year in this event, I shot an opening 65, made the cut but could not keep up my first round form.

It is a remarkably strong field this week, headlined by world number four Cam Smith (Aus), former two-time champion Dustin Johnson (US), Brooks Koepka (US), Patrick Reed (US), Sergio Garcia (Spain), defending champion Harold Varner III (US), and a host of global golf stars including the cream of Asian Tour talent.

Many players in the off-season make equipment changes.

I have tested some new and different golf equipment in the off-season, but have decided to keep with the same set-up for all my clubs that have helped me in the past.

My tee time tomorrow (Thursday) in round one is at 8.15 am off tee one along with Sarit Suwannarut (Thai) and Sam Horsfield (Eng). Sarit is 24 years-old and finished 10th in the 2022 Asian Tour Order of Merit, having won the last event of the 2022 season, the BNI Indonesia Masters, and Sam, 26 years-old, plays on the LIV Tour and played last week in Dubai and has won three times on the DP World Tour.

Good luck to all, wish me all the best and see you all soon.

Shiv Kapur (India), 40 years-old is a Dubai resident and has won nine times in his career, three times on the Asian Tour.