King Abdullah Economic City, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 24th January 2019: Four-time European Tour winner Matteo Manassero has been named as one of 11 sponsors’ invitations added to the world-class field at the forthcoming Saudi International powered by SIBA.
The line-up already boasts four of the world’s top five players, seven Major champions and eight players from last year’s Ryder Cup, and now former teenage sensation and 2013 BMW PGA champion Manassero adds further strength to the event at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club from 31st January to 3rd February, 2019.
Eight of the invited players are aged 25 and under, as the Saudi Golf Federation aims to provide the next generation of international talent with an opportunity to make a breakthrough on golf’s greatest stage.
Manassero is joined by five other professional invitees as well as two nationals and three amateurs hailing from as many as seven countries including England, Australia, India, Jordan, South Africa and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Speaking about the invite, Manassero said, “I’m delighted to receive an invite to this ground-breaking event, it is always exciting to visit a new country and experience a new challenge, especially when it means playing against four of the world’s top five. This will be my first European Tour event of year and I am grateful to the Saudi Golf Federation for the opportunity.”
Among the professional invitees is 20-year-old Australian Min Woo Lee, who has recently joined the paid ranks following a glittering amateur career. He has been tipped as a star of the future since winning the 2016 U.S. Junior Amateur, following in the footsteps of his sister, Minjee Lee, an LPGA player currently ranked number six in the world.
Lee is developing a reputation as a long-hitter and will be relishing the chance to tee it up against renowned power players Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Sergio Garcia in Saudi Arabia.
Commenting on his upcoming second professional appearance, Min Woo Lee, said, “I can’t wait to get out to Royal Greens Golf & Country Club to start my preparation for next week. I felt like I left a lot of shots out there in Abu Dhabi in my professional debut but have learned from the experience and I’m raring to tee it up again. There’s so many world-class players in the field and I’m extremely lucky to be competing in the same arena as them so early in my career.”
English trio Alfie Plant, who won the Silver Medal for highest-placed amateur at the 2017 Open Championship, Todd Clements and Walker Cup player Matthew Jordan have all accepted invitations to the lucrative tournament, as has South Africa’s Shaun Norris.
The national invites have gone to Saudi professional Othman Al Mulla and UAE amateur Rayhan Thomas. Almulla was the first Saudi Arabian and youngest Arab amateur to qualify and play in the Dubai Desert Classic in 2007, and he also qualified to play in the Qatar Masters a year later, having won the Qatar Open.
The 32-year-old has represented his country three times in the Eisenhower Trophy, and made history in October last year when he posted the first sub-par round by a Saudi Arabian in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Singapore, a one-under-par 69.
Thomas has also tasted recent success, claiming the 11th King Hamad Trophy in Bahrain in November. At just 19, he is a golfing prodigy who hit the headlines in 2017 for his world record-equalling nine successive birdies in the first round of the Dubai Creek Open on the MENA Tour, an event he won the year before.
Completing the invitations are Abdul Rahman Al Mansour, Saud Al Sharee and 15-year-old YouTube sensation Shergo Kurdi, whose impressive swing from a young age has earned him rave reviews among the top pros, whom he has met at tournaments around the world.
– Shergo Kurdi, (am) JORDAN, Age 15
– Rayhan Thomas, INDIA, Age 19
– Saud Al Sharee (am), KSA, Age 19
– Min Woo Lee, AUSTRALIAN, Age 20
– Todd Clements, ENGLAND, Age 22
– Matthew Jordan, ENGLAND, Age 23
– AbdulRahman Al Mansour (am), KSA, Age 24
– Matteo Manassero, ITALIAN, Age 25
– Alfie Plant, ENGLAND, Age 26
– Othman Al mulla, KSA, Age 32
– Shaun Norris, SOUTH AFRICA, Age 36