'Unbelievable' opportunities golf can give to Saudis: Patrick Reed

'Unbelievable' opportunities golf can give to Saudis: Patrick Reed
'Unbelievable' opportunities golf can give to Saudis: Patrick Reed

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH — “If we can help inspire even a handful of people to take up the game, then it will be very rewarding,” US star Patrick Reed said on the importance of taking golf into new markets ahead of return to Saudi International

Former Master champion believes there are ‘unbelievable’ opportunities that golf can give young Saudis.

Commenting on his his early season form, he said: “My game feels good and I am looking for a good performance here to kick start a strong season on tour this year”

The Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers returns to King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) from Jan. 30 – Feb. 2.

Following is the interview with the US star:

Q: What can you remember from playing in the inaugural Saudi International last year?

A: I had a fantastic experience here in Saudi last year. I learnt so much about the culture and met so many wonderful people during my short time in the region. I am really looking forward to having another go at the trophy this year now that I am more familiar with the course. Hopefully I’ll be challenging for the title come Sunday afternoon.

Q: How does the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club remind you of other courses you’ve played across the globe?

A: I am not surprised that the club has won many awards. The course was in absolutely amazing condition last year and I’m sure it will be the same this year. Everything from the clubhouse to the greens were pristine and the Saudi Golf Federation took great care of us and made us feel so welcome. The course is not like any other we play in the US for sure. But having played in the Middle East before, the weather, the general feel of the course and how the golf ball reacts on the greens and most of the shots is similar.

Q: What surprised you most about being in Saudi Arabia last year?

A: It was just a totally new and amazing cultural experience for me. I think having fans that are watching the sport for the first time was really interesting because sometimes you take it for granted that everyone who usually watches us knows the game extremely well. I really enjoyed my visit to the school and was fascinated to see how intrigued all of the kids were by the game of golf and what we were doing there. If we can help inspire even a handful of people to take up the game, then it will be very rewarding for me.

Q: How have your preparations been going into the championship and what can fans expect from you this year?

A: I like playing a lot of golf and did exactly that at the end of last year leading up to the Christmas period. My game feels good and I am looking for a good performance here to kick start a strong season on tour this year.

Q: How important is it for golf to be coming to Saudi Arabia and bring the game into new markets?

A: It is extremely important. If the game of golf is going to continue and to grow we need to visit new countries and introduce the game to new people, and the Saudi International has done a fantastic job of that. I love traveling to new places and as a member on both the PGA and European Tour it is a special experience for me to visit a new country.

Q: What can new fans to golf expect from attending their first tournament?

A: It was very exciting to see so many people coming to watch the event in its debut year last year and will be even more exciting this year with more people coming out. Considering that golf is a relatively new sport to Saudi Arabia, I’m sure that there will be more and more people coming out each and every year from now on.

For those who didn’t make it last year I would say when fans are on the golf course, they not only get to watch some of the world’s best players up close and first hand, but they also get to see how the players warm up before the round on the driving range, on the putting green, in the short game area and how the players hit all these different shots on the course throughout their rounds. And when fans are watching on the course, they are able to stand as close five or six feet to some of us when we are hitting our shots. Although the cameras can zoom in on the TV, it is a completely different experience compared to seeing it in person.

Q: What would you say to young Saudis interested to get involved in golf? What life lessons does it give?

A: By all means, give it a go! I spoke to a number of kids at the school last year and they were all super keen and couldn’t wait to try golf. The facilities out here in the Kingdom are unbelievable, second to none, so there is a unique opportunity for these kids to take up the game of golf, develop their skills and confidence and meet new people from around the world for the rest of their lives.

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