Open Champion Shane Lowry is aiming to extend his strong record in the Middle East when he makes his debut as part of a strong field in the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers.
The Irishman won the 2019 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA and is a former runner up in the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
He began his 2020 calendar year by finishing runner up in Hong Kong and after missing the cut by one shot in Abu Dhabi, he finished tied 11th in last week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
Lowry believes Royal Greens Golf and Country Club is comparable to some of the other courses he has performance well at in the Middle East and he is looking forward to teeing it up for the first two rounds alongside World Number One Brooks Koepka and former Masters Champion Sergio Garcia, both of whom return to Saudi Arabia after playing in last year’s inaugural event.
Defending champion Dustin Johnson is also in the field and he is grouped with Lee Westwood, winner of the 2020’s first Rolex Series event in Abu Dhabi, and another Middle East specialist, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson.
“It’s very much a Middle East-style golf course, and something that I like the look of it straightaway. It’s in great condition.
“Hopefully I can go out and play well, but I do really like the look of the golf course and it’s in perfect condition.
“I’ve done well in obviously Abu Dhabi, in the DP World and I played okay in the Desert Classic the last couple of years. It’s the type of golf that I like. The wind picks up here in the afternoon, which would suit me a little bit, as well. It is a type of golf that I do enjoy playing. It’s perfect weather and perfect condition golf course.
“I got off to a great start in Hong Kong after a long break and didn’t know what to expect. Then came to Abu Dhabi, and I sort of had a mental error on the last hole and missed the cut out of nowhere.
“Last week I finished 11th and probably would have liked to finish better, but any Sunday morning you’re sitting there eating your breakfast and feel like you have a chance to win the tournament is a good day.
“ I feel like my form is okay, and I’m hoping to do all right this week and pick up a few more World Ranking points, Ryder Cup points.”
“I’m feeling good. I’m really pleased with how I played last year, and I’m excited to be back in Saudi Arabia for this tournament.
“Any time you’ve won somewhere you’re looking at it, but every event that I go to, whether I’ve won there or not, I’m always trying to win it.
“It’s more like the process. Like I want to get myself in contention. I just want to give myself a chance to win on Sunday. I feel like if I can put myself in a position to have a chance to win going into the back nine on Sunday, then I’ve done what I wanted to do that week, and you know, just see what I can do those last nine holes.”
“The course has gotten a lot better than it was last year. Any time you can give a course an extra year to really develop, you’re going to see the progression of it. The greens are a lot faster. The rough’s a lot thicker. It’s settled in nicely.
“It looks incredible shape just as it was last year, just a little more settled in, which will be different. You never know what the scores could be. A few greens are a little firmer and faster, and if the wind gets up like it usually does in the afternoon, it might be a different story this year. You don’t know.
“Last week I practised all week. I had three months off, so there was no point in having a holiday or a vacation. It was more of a work thing. Just got the game ready. Felt good in Abu Dhabi. Felt good in Dubai. Feels good here.
“It’s just a matter of going out and executing. I played just fine, great shots in Abu Dhabi. Just didn’t score and that’s my own fault. Just coming here to try to figure it out and put some scores together, put some rounds together, and try to eliminate some mistakes.”