Harold Varner III has confirmed that he will defend his PIF Saudi International title at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club on February 2-5.
The 2022 champion will return to King Abdullah Economic City hoping to retain the trophy that marked his second professional victory — and kick-started a massive year for the American star.
Varner III famously holed a 92-foot putt for eagle on Royal Greens’ par-five 18th earlier this year to snatch victory when a play-off against good friend Bubba Watson seemed guaranteed.
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While that memory still remains fresh for the 32-year-old, the Ohio-native has his eyes set on making experience count in the search for making it back-to-back wins on the Asian Tour’s 2023 season-opening event.
He said: “Whenever I think back to that putt all the incredible memories come flooding back. As I said at the time after winning, it’s moments and competition like that that makes you want to play, to compete, to be up there. It was a huge moment for me and for my career.
“But that’s now in the past. Sure, I’ve got the trophy at home, but that was a success of this year: time for me to focus on replicating that as best I can next year, in 2023. Having this event so early in the season could be good for me in as much as it could set me off with confidence into an even bigger year.
“Obviously all my memories of playing in Saudi Arabia are positive — I did win out there, after all. But everything is awesome out there. The course at Royal Greens is so pure, the field is always pretty incredible, and the hospitality and experience is some of the best of any event you can play in, so I can’t wait to get back out there for 2023’s event. It was special to join the likes of DJ [Dustin Johnson] and G-Mac [Graeme McDowell] in winning this event!”
The Saudi International moved onto the Asian Tour circuit in 2022 as part of a new partnership. The four-day event has a $5 million prize fund and will once again seek to have one of the highest Official World Golf Ranking point totals in international golf.
In the 2022 tournament, Varner III and Watson competed as part of a star-studded field packed with Major-winners including two-time Saudi International champion Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia and Louis Oosthuizen.
The full field for 2023’s event will be announced in due course. In addition to some of the biggest names in global golf it will feature the Asian Tour’s top 30 ranked players at the close of the 2022 season.
Majed Al-Sorour, CEO and Deputy Chairman of Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation, said: “The 2022 edition of the International was the strongest field we’d had yet, but we remain still only in the formative years of our vision for golf in the Kingdom. It’s amazing to think this will be the fifth instalment of the tournament that is growing year on year.
“I’m thrilled to say that we’ll be compiling yet another superstar field for 2023’s event — and I am equally a delighted to confirm that our defending champion Harold Varner III will be a part of that.
“His incredible win back in February of this year is one that will continue to live long in all our memories. Let’s hope we can get just as much drama and intrigue at next year’s tournament.”