Golf Saudi today announced the professional and amateur invitations for the Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, from February 4-7.
Saudi Arabia's Othman Almulla made history in 2019 when he became the first golfer from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to turn professional and compete internationally as a professional and is receiving his third invitation from Golf Saudi.
Saud Al Sharif will be the second Saudi Arabian player in the field, securing his invite as the leading amateur golfer in Saudi Arabia having impressed on the 2020 MENA Tour, finishing second at the GCC Championship in Oman.
The invitees will get the chance to compete alongside a world-class field including World Number One and 2020 Masters Tournament Champion Dustin Johnson, 2020 U.S. Open Champion Bryson DeChambeau, 2020 Race to Dubai winner Lee Westwood and defending Champion Graeme McDowell.
Al Sharif said: "We are very fortunate to have such a high-profile event in our country and I feel very honoured to be representing Saudi Arabia in a field of such high-quality global golfers.
"This will be my third time playing and each year I gain such invaluable insight into what it takes to be a top golfer.
"I hope that all the work I have been putting into my game since last year pays off and I can make everyone proud by becoming the first player from the Kingdom to make the cut."
Formerly the United States' top-ranked junior player, Akshay Bhatia will be in the field alongside his hero Phil Mickelson. The 18-year-old became the first high-schooler to compete on the US Walker Cup team in 2019.
England's Harry Hall, who also competed in the 2019 Walker Cup, has just completed his first year as a professional having played on the Korn Ferry Tour, where he achieved three top-ten results.
Joining their fellow countrymen and defending Open Champion Shane Lowry, and boosting the Irish representation in the field are Paul Dunne and Cormac Sharvin.
The final professional invitation has been awarded to Japan's Takumi Kanaya. A former Number One on the World Amateur Golf Rankings. Kanaya turned professional in October and immediately underlined his potential by winning the prestigious Dunlop Phoenix Masters on the JGTO in only his fourth start as a professional.
"I am very thankful to the Saudi Golf Federation for extending me this invitation," said Kanaya. "It will be a very important experience to play alongside so many of the best players in the world and a huge opportunity for me.
"One of my goals this year is to earn my European Tour card, so I will be hoping for a strong showing on my first visit to Saudi Arabia."
Amateur invitations have been awarded to Jordan's Shergo Kurdi and Spaniard Eduard Rousaud Sabate. Kurdi, a 17-year-old amateur, became the first player from the GCC and Middle East countries to earn Official World Golf Ranking points with his runner-up finish on the MENA Tour at the Journey to Jordan tournament held at Ayla Golf Club in Aqaba.
Rousaud Sabate is currently a career-high fourth on the WAGR having won twice in 2020, joining his fellow countrymen Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Sergio Garcia in the field.
Majed Al Sourer, CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi, said: "We are very excited to announce these invitations for the upcoming Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers. The inclusion of these players will inspire the next generation to follow in their footsteps and support our goal to grow the game of golf in the Kingdom.
"Our ultimate goal at Golf Saudi is to grow the game of golf, so the maximum amount of people are aware and can experience the benefits and value of the game
"As we embark on the third edition of our tournament, it feels right that we are also supporting so many young international players who look set to be the stars of tomorrow. We hope their experience of Saudi Arabia will be their first of many visits and they will be part of our journey in developing a vibrant a sustainable golfing nation."