Feb 3rd, 2021
DJ ready for Saudi challenge
World Number One excited to take on Saudi International
Photography: Getty Images
The 36-year-old won the inaugural Saudi International two years ago and finished runner-up to Graeme McDowell on his title defence in 2020, so he is brimming with confidence heading into his second event of the season and first on the Race to Dubai.
“It's a golf course that I thought set up well for me. I like the golf course. It's a fun course to play," said Johnson.
"Obviously I've had success here the last two years and I enjoy it. It's been a great week. I think they do a great job hosting this event, and obviously this year, we've got a great field. I was excited to come back."
Patrick Reed, meanwhile, arrives in Saudi Arabia in flying form having sealed a five-stroke victory last week at the PGA TOUR's Farmers Insurance Open. The World Number Ten is yet to win in the Middle East but a top three finish at last December's DP World Tour Championship, Dubai will give him confidence of a maiden regular European Tour win.
“It's awesome to come over here. The support that this event has and the support that Saudi has given the players, as well as just the Tour, is amazing," enthused Reed.
"For us, coming over and playing and having a golf course that's continuously gotten better and better each year, and the hospitality is amazing. It's one of these places you really look forward to coming to and playing."
Phil Mickelson finished in a share of third place at last year's Saudi International and the 50-year-old is a fan of the layout at Royal Greens, as is Norwegian star Viktor Hovland - whose runner-up finish in Florida last week elevated him to a career-high 12th in the Official World Golf Ranking.
“I think that it's really a fun golf course to play. I enjoyed it last year. Condition is a 10 out of 10. I don't think you can get it anymore approximately manicured and set up for an event," said Mickelson.
"It's been a long trip obviously but I'm glad to be over here," said Hovland on arrival.
"I had a good week last week in San Diego. And just trying to look to continue to build on that. I feel like my game is in great shape and I've just got to get adjusted and get ready to start off the week."