Asian Tour Elite And Rising Stars Confirmed For US$5 million Saudi International
Asian Tour Order of Merit winner, 19-year-old Jooyhung Kim and 14-year-old golfing wonderkid Ratchanon Chantananuwat headline impressive Asian Tour contingent to Saudi Arabia.
The cream of the Asian Tour will compete in next week’s PIF Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers with six Asian Tour number ones and over 50 Asian Tour players, boasting hundreds of Tour titles between them, competing in the season-opening event on the 2022 Asian Tour.
Jooyhung Kim, the 19-year-old rising star from Korea, who secured the 2020-21 Asian Tour Order of Merit title at the weekend, after finishing joint second in the SMBC Singapore Open, will lead an impressive line-up which includes former Merit list champions Thongchai Jaidee from Thailand (2001, 2004, 2009), his compatriot Jazz Janewattananond (2019), Shubhankar Sharma from India (2018), Malaysia’s Gavin Green (2017), and Australian Scott Hend (2016).
The tournament, taking place at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club from February 3-6, will feature the strongest field ever assembled for an Asian Tour event.
The tournament, taking place at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club from February 3-6, will feature the strongest field ever assembled for an Asian Tour event. The best players in Asia will have a chance to compete against a host of the biggest names in golf such as Dustin Johnson – the defending champion and 2019 winner – Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Phil Mickelson, Cameron Smith Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood, and Ian Poulter, among others.
The tournament will also be one of the most lucrative in the Tour’s history with a purse of US$5 million.
The top-30 players from the Final Asian Tour Order of Merit booked their tickets to Saudi although Kim is actually exempt through a category for the top-300 on the OWGR. This also applied to Thailand’s Sadom Kaewkanjana, who claimed the SMBC Singapore Open to finish in second place on the Merit list, and Phachara Khongwatmai, Korean Bio Kim, Australian Wade Ormsby plus Jazz and Sharma.
Majed Al-Sorour, Deputy Chairman and CEO of Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation, said: “It’s incredibly exciting to enter a new era for the tournament in partnership with the Asian Tour by seeing the elite players from the region take on the world here in Saudi Arabia. There are some brilliant players who have qualified alongside some rising stars of the game across Asia that will have an amazing opportunity and platform next week to showcase their talent, in the strongest field in our history.”
The Asian Tour resumed play at the end of last year, following a 20-month break caused by COVID-19, with back-to-back events in Phuket. Chan Shih-chang from Chinese-Taipei, also playing in Saudi, was victorious in the first of those, the Blue Canyon Phuket Championship, while the following week Phachara lifted the Laguna Phuket Championship trophy.
The Tour resumed its end of season events in Singapore this month with Joohyung Kim winning The Singapore International, a week before Sadom’s success in Singapore’s National Open.
A number of Asian Tour players received invites to the tournament including Thongchai, his countryman Prom Meesawat and Filipinos Angelo Que and Miguel Tabuena.
Another of the invites is Thailand’s 14-year-old golfing wonderkid Ratchanon Chantananuwat. The amateur sensation, nicknamed “TK”, nearly won The Singapore International, before finishing in third place.
Singapore’s Koh Dengshan also earned a berth in the elite field in the Saudi International by being the top local player at the SMBC Singapore Open.