he controversial Saudi International might be an Asian Tour event but it is no ordinary Asian Tour field, with some of the world’s best players in attendance this week.
Both the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour reluctantly granted permission for players to compete in the event, which is sponsored by the Saudi public investment fund, though they expect future commitments in return.
The huge appearances fees have attracted a star-studded field, with Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Xander Schauffele among those arriving from the US, while Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Sergio Garcia lead the European contingent.
Two-time major winner Greg Norman is the face of Saudi investment in the Asian Tour and has promised there is more to come as he looks to threaten the dominance of the established bodies.
“In the beginning, we have to get off with baby steps, understand where we need to go and how we’re going to need to do it,” Norman said.
“This is just the infancy of this journey, and it’s really going to be an exciting journey.”
What comes next for the Asian Tour, and whether it can tempt players away from the PGA Tour and DP World Tour longer-term, remains to be seen, but for now the focus in on the Saudi International this week, taking place in King Abdullah Economic City.
How to watch Saudi International?
The first round of the Saudi International gets underway early on Thursday, February 3, before the winner lifts the trophy after Sunday’s final round in the early afternoon UK time.
TV channel: Golf fans in the UK will be able to watch the tournament on FreeSports, though there is only limited coverage.
It’s scheduled to be shown live 8am-10am GMT on Thursday and Friday, before more extensive live coverage from 8:30am-1pm GMT over the weekend.
FreeSports is available on Sky channel 422, Virgin 553, Freeview 65 and BT 64.
Live stream: Coverage will be available online via the FreeSports Player.
Selected tee times for Saudi International
Dustin Johnson, Jason Kokrak, Joohyung Kim – Thursday 05:00am GMT
Shane Lowry, Tony Finau, Graeme McDowell – Thursday 05:10am GMT
Tommy Fleetwood, Bryson DeChambeau, Lee Westwood – Thursday 09:20am GMT
Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton, Paul Casey – Thursday 09:30am GMT
Latest odds for Saudi International
- Dustin Johnson 7/1
- Xander Schauffele 11/1
- Cameron Smith 12/1
- Tyrrell Hatton 12/1
- Bryson DeChambeau 14/1
- Sergio Garcia 14/1
- Paul Casey 16/1
- Thomas Pieters 16/1
- Tony Finau 16/1
- Tommy Fleetwood 20/1
Odds via Betfair.