Saudi International: Paul Casey among Ryder Cup stars to commit

Seven of Europe’s 2018 Ryder Cup-winning team are among the players to have confirmed they will feature at the next edition of the Saudi International in February.

Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson have all committed to teeing it up at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club from February 4-7.

Rafa Cabrera Bello and Lee Westwood – both in the 2016 European side – are also in the star-studded line-up, where the strength of the field means a large number of Ryder Cup points will be on offer as part of the qualification campaign for the 2021 contest.

“With Ryder Cup qualification on the line, I am obviously looking to get my campaign off to a fast start and getting a decent finish or winning the Saudi International against such a stellar field would be massive,” Poulter said.

“It’s been a really weird year with Covid so we are all looking forward to a fresh start in 2021 and I am hoping it is also a strong start as I keep my eyes firmly focused on qualifying for the European team at Whistling Straits.”

World No 1 Dustin Johnson, US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau and 2020 winner Graeme McDowell had already announced they would be involved, along with Open champion Shane Lowry, Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed.

Casey – a Unicef ambassador – will make his debut in the event, having previously expressed concerns over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and saying he would be a “hypocrite” to receive appearance money to play there.

In an interview with the Independent in March 2019, Casey said: “It just didn’t sit well with me. I’ve not talked too much about it and I’m not sure I want to, but certainly signing a deal and being paid to be down there, I would be a hypocrite if I did that.”

The Ryder Cup qualification campaign will resume from January 1, having been paused after golf’s coronavirus-enforced shutdown and the biennial tournament being postponed from 2020 to 2021.

Watch the Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers live from February 4-7 on Sky Sports Golf!

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