No. 1 Brooks Koepka, No. 3 Dustin Johnson will return in '20
Committed: To return to the Saudi International, two of the world’s top three-ranked players, Americans Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, the tournament announced in a news release. World No. 3 Johnson will be the defending champion in the European Tour’s second visit to Saudi Arabia early next year, and Koepka, a four-time major winner and the reigning PGA champion, is the top-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking. The tournament will be played Jan. 30-Feb. 2 at Royal Greens in King Abdullah Economic City. Last year’s inaugural event was played under a cloud of controversy after Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who had been critical of the Saudi regime, was slain four months earlier inside the Saudi Consulate in Turkey. His death and dismembering were linked by U.S. and other intelligence services to Saudi Arabia’s rulers. Appearance fees reportedly run well into seven figures for the world’s top players to compete in the tournament. The Saudi International, which will be played opposite the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, will be one of six European Tour visits to the Arabian Peninsula in the 2019-20 season.
Confirmed: Sixteen of the 18 players for Tiger Woods’ Hero World Challenge, to be played Dec. 4-7 at Albany in the Bahamas, the tournament announced. Seven of the American players who qualified for the Presidents Cup team, which Woods will captain in December in Australia, committed to Woods’ event: Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson and Justin Thomas. Brooks Koepka, the No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Ranking, will not play in the unofficial PGA Tour event, which awards world-ranking points and benefits Woods’ foundation and Bahamian hurricane relief. The other participants: Americans Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler, Kevin Kisner, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Gary Woodland; England’s Justin Rose, who has a home at Albany; and Spain’s Jon Rahm, the defending champion and recent Spanish Open winner. Woods, as tournament host, also will compete. The final two invitees were not disclosed.