RIYADH -- The European Tour's newest tournament, taking place in Saudi Arabia, has signaled its intent to become the biggest golf tournament in the Middle East by announcing that Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed will tee it up at the inaugural event next year.
The region has long been known as a global powerhouse with the Dubai Desert Classic and Abu Dhabi Golf Championship having hosted some of golf's biggest names for more than a decade. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy are regular visitors to the Middle East during the Desert Swing leg of the tour.
Last month the European Tour announced Saudi Arabia would be joining the fray with a new tournament set to take place from January 31 to February 3.
Details were scant, bar the dates and the course chosen to host the event. But now with confirmation that two of the world's best players will be gracing the fairways of King Abdullah Economic City at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club it is clear that the new event will be one of the major events of next year's golfing calendar.
And that is something that world No.1 Johnson wants to be part of.
"I am excited to make my first trip to Saudi Arabia and support this historic new event. It sounds like some amazing things are happening there, including big plans for junior and family golf development. It's an honor to be part of Saudi Arabia's golf journey from the onset," he said.
Recently crowned Masters Champion, Patrick Reed, added: "It's been a crazy few weeks since I won at Augusta and so much fun. "I had not, at this stage, finalized anything in my schedule for next year but when I heard about the ambitious plans for golf in Saudi Arabia, I committed straight away."
That the tournament has managed to lure Johnson and new Masters champion Reed is a proper statement of intent.
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: "We are delighted to have Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Paul Casey and Thomas Bjï¿½rn in the field for our first professional golf tournament in Saudi Arabia.
"Royal Greens Golf and Country Club is a spectacular venue, with world class facilities, and our players are going to absolutely love playing there.
"We are a global Tour and this is an exciting opportunity for us to play in a new country which has a strong focus on golf as part of its vision for the future. Our thanks go to Mohammad bin Salman for this vision, and to the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority, the Saudi Arabian Golf Federation and everyone at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club and the King Abdullah Economic City for their commitment to this inaugural tournament."
Johnson and Reed are two of the biggest names in golf at the moment, Johnson has been world No. 1 for more than a year now, and when on form can be untouchable -- long off the tee and with a short game that does not get the credit it deserves. Reed won impressively at Augusta earlier this month and, while he divides opinion, it was a Major victory that did not come out of the blue and should serve as a springboard to more success.
Also joining Johnson and Reed will be world No.15 Paul Casey and 2018 Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjorn.
Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Chairman of the Saudi Golf Federation commented: "This is a very important weekend for us as we mark the opening of our new world-class golf facilities at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club.
"At the same time, we are very proud to announce that our inaugural Tour event in January 2019 will welcome both the number one player in the world, Dustin Johnson and the champion of the year's first Major, Patrick Reed.
"Together with Paul Casey, we already have three of the World's top 15 players confirmed, along with Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjorn, which is only the start of our player announcements."
Royal Greens boasts a premier championship golf course, a state of the art clubhouse, a world-class practice facility and stunning residential and recreational facilities. Aiming to attract many of the best players in the world, there will also be a special focus on families, community, charity and junior development as the Kingdom looks to develop its golfing pedigree.
Further details on the event name, prize fund, event partners and other details will be announced in the coming weeks.
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