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Johnson leads strong US contingent in Saudi Arabia

Johnson leads strong US contingent in Saudi Arabia

World Number One Dustin Johnson is hoping for more success on his return to the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers.

Dustin Johnson

The American won the inaugural event at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in 2019 and finished runner-up last year.

Masters Tournament champion Johnson is a combined 29 under par for his eight rounds at this week's venue, and hoping to continue that good run.

“I like the golf course,” he said. “It's a fun course to play.

“Obviously I've had success here the last two years and I enjoy it. It's been a great week.

“I think they do a great job hosting this event, and obviously this year, we've got a great field.”

Johnson is joined in the field by compatriots Patrick Reed – fresh from his win at last week's Farmers Insurance Open – five-time Major winner Phil Mickelson and U.S. Open Championship winner Bryson DeChambeau.

Mickelson finished tied for third last year and believes the course is in perfect condition for him to produce his best form again.

“I think that it's really a fun golf course to play,” he said. “I enjoyed it last year.

“Condition is a ten out of ten. I don't think you can get it any more approximately manicured and set up for an event.

“I think that I've enjoyed my time here. I have been treated as well at this event as any tournament I've ever played in.

“I enjoy the golf course. It's fun for me to see different parts of the world and I'm very flattered to be a part of this event.”

DeChambeau finished sixth in the inaugural event but returns a Major champion.

And the 27-year-old plans to replicate his tactics from his remarkable win at Winged Foot.

“It's an honour to be here,” he said. “I'm always about growing the game, and I think this is a great opportunity to do it.

“The greens are in immaculate shape. I love them. They have tightened it up in certain areas from when I was here a couple years ago.

“I think hitting it long and far is an advantage here and being able to wedge it on to the green is huge. Kind of keep the same game plan as the U.S. Open in a sense and go at it with that.”

Reed was pleased to see his swing changes pay dividend at Torrey Pines, but now hopes they can withstand any after effects of the long journey from California to the Middle East.

He said: “Biggest thing really, for me, to see how the new swing changes and everything were going to hold up under pressure and towards the end on a Sunday, I feel like I made huge strides with making a change with (David) Leadbetter and everything especially on the range and during practice rounds and during the first couple rounds.

“I think the biggest thing was yesterday. Yesterday we got in at 1.00, 1.30 in the morning, and jet-lagged like crazy. Didn't really feel like I was inside my body. 

“Felt like I was wobbling around everywhere. To come out here and get a little bit of practice in and feel like I still had control of the golf club was a huge thing. 

“Getting out there today, it felt awesome to be back. For me, it's always fun coming over and playing on the European Tour. Get away from my comfort zone at home.”

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