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BlogSaudi Preview and Picks

Saudi International

February 4th – 7th, 2021

Royal Greens G.&C.C.

King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia

Par: 70 / Yardage: 7,010

Purse: $3.5 million

with $585,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Graeme McDowell

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 38 players from the top-100 in the latest Official World Rankings and 18 top-50 players:#1 Dustin Johnson, #7 Tyrrell Hatton, #10 Patrick Reed, #12 Viktor Hovland, #15 Tony Finau, #16 Paul Casey, #21 Tommy Fleetwood, #25 Kevin Na, #27 Abraham Ancer, #29 Jason Kokrak, #33 Christiaan Bezuidenhout, #35 Victor Perez, #36 Lee Westwood, #37 Shane Lowry, #38 Justin Rose, #41 Bernd Wiesberger, #43 Sergio Garcia, #49 Matt Wallace, #55 Andy Sullivan, #57 Ian Poulter, #64 Lucas Herbert, #67 Danny Willett, #69 Sami Valimaki, #73 Phil Mickelson, #75 Henrik Stenson, #78 Aaron Rai, #81 Thomas Detry, #82 Rafael Cabrera-Bello, #83 Thomas Pieters, #84 Martin Kaymer, #86 Rasmus Hojgaard, #90 George Coetzee, #91 Graeme McDowell, #93 Antoine Rozner, #94 Laurie Canter, #97 Jazz Janewattananond, #98 Garrick Higgo and #99 Matthias Schwab.

Have to say this event has a better field over Phoenix and is the event to watch.

The field includes 24 of the Top-26 on the final Race to Dubai standings for 2021.  Those players are #1 Tyrrell Hatton, #2 Jason Scrivener, #3 Paul Casey, #5 Brandon Stone, #6 Rafael Cabrera-Bello, #7 Robert Macintyre, #8 David Lipsky, #9 Marc Warren, #10 Tommy Fleetwood, #11 Fabrizio Zanotti,#12 Matt Wallace, #13 Adri Arnaus, #14 Bernd Wiesberger, #15 Laurie Canter, #15 Kalle Samooja, #17 Chris Paisley, #18 Christiaan Bezuidenhout, #18 Wade Ormsby, #20 Antoine Rozner, #21 George Coetzee, #23 Mikko Korhonen, #24 Rasmus Hojgaard, #24 Matthias Schwab and #24 Alexander Levy.

The field includes both past champions: Graeme McDowell (2020) and Dustin Johnson (2019).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Saudi International field is our performance chart listed by the average finish. 

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Saudi International

Player Dubai Desert Farmers Insurance Abu Dhabi American Express Sony Open Sentry T of C. Mayakoba DP World, Dubai RSM Classic South Africa Golf in Dubai Alfred Dunhill
Tony Finau
(209.33 pts)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP 4
(80)
DNP T31
(12.67)
T8
(16.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Viktor Hovland
(201.67 pts)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP T31
(12.67)
Win
(44)
T3
(45)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Tyrrell Hatton
(194 pts)
T22
(28)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T8
(25)
T23
(9)
DNP DNP DNP
Patrick Reed
(186.33 pts)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T21
(19.33)
DNP T3
(45)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Paul Casey
(182 pts)
Win
(132)
DNP DNP T8
(50)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Robert MacIntyre
(147.83 pts)
3
(90)
DNP T16
(34)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T23
(13.5)
DNP DNP T19
(10.33)
DNP
Bernd Wiesberger
(135.33 pts)
T6
(60)
DNP T25
(25)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T36
(7)
T4
(26.67)
DNP T8
(16.67)
DNP
Antoine Rozner
(134.67 pts)
T9
(45)
DNP T16
(34)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T36
(7)
DNP T51
(0)
Win
(44)
T36
(4.67)
Kevin Na
(130 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
Win
(132)
T38
(8)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Laurie Canter
(113.67 pts)
T4
(80)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T5
(35)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T14
(12)
Tommy Fleetwood
(112.33 pts)
T17
(33)
DNP T7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T10
(20)
T37
(4.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Jason Scrivener
(109 pts)
T41
(9)
DNP 2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Matt Wallace
(103.17 pts)
T51
(0)
DNP T7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T29
(10.5)
T37
(4.33)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP
Brandon Stone
(100.17 pts)
2
(100)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T23
(13.5)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T59
(0)
Adri Arnaus
(99.67 pts)
T9
(45)
DNP T12
(38)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T10
(20)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Marc Warren
(97.33 pts)
DNP DNP T5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T32
(9)
DNP T45
(1.67)
T8
(16.67)
DNP
Andy Sullivan
(97 pts)
T48
(2)
DNP T25
(25)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T10
(20)
CUT
(-3.33)
T6
(20)
T2
(33.33)
DNP
Abraham Ancer
(94.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(70)
CUT
(-10)
T17
(22)
T12
(12.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
(91.67 pts)
T35
(15)
DNP 4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Sergio Garcia
(89 pts)
T6
(60)
DNP DNP DNP T47
(3)
T11
(26)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
David Lipsky
(85 pts)
T35
(15)
DNP T5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Kalle Samooja
(80.17 pts)
T4
(80)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T23
(13.5)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Lee Westwood
(79.67 pts)
T17
(33)
DNP T62
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 2
(50)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
George Coetzee
(78.17 pts)
T60
(0)
DNP 11
(39)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T29
(10.5)
DNP T6
(20)
DNP T24
(8.67)
Christiaan Bezuidenhout
(77.33 pts)
T22
(28)
DNP T12
(38)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T14
(18)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Fabrizio Zanotti
(74.67 pts)
T27
(23)
DNP T7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Matthias Schwab
(70 pts)
T9
(45)
DNP T25
(25)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Alexander Levy
(66.67 pts)
T9
(45)
DNP T25
(25)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Wade Ormsby
(66 pts)
T22
(28)
DNP T12
(38)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Rasmus Hojgaard
(63.67 pts)
T9
(45)
DNP T25
(25)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T49
(0.33)
Richard Sterne
(63.67 pts)
T20
(30)
DNP T25
(25)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T14
(12)
Scott Jamieson
(58 pts)
T27
(23)
DNP T16
(34)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T48
(1)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Thomas Detry
(57.17 pts)
T9
(45)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T29
(10.5)
DNP T28
(7.33)
T37
(4.33)
DNP
Mikko Korhonen
(56.67 pts)
T35
(15)
DNP 15
(35)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T30
(6.67)
DNP
Lucas Herbert
(53 pts)
T22
(28)
DNP T25
(25)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Danny Willett
(52.33 pts)
T44
(6)
DNP T16
(34)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T32
(9)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T30
(6.67)
DNP
Thomas Pieters
(47.33 pts)
T27
(23)
DNP T41
(9)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T36
(7)
DNP DNP T25
(8.33)
DNP
Chris Paisley
(45 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T57
(0)
DNP DNP
Kurt Kitayama
(45 pts)
T20
(30)
DNP T35
(15)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Grant Forrest
(43 pts)
T27
(23)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 64
(0)
DNP DNP 6
(20)
T55
(0)
Justin Harding
(39 pts)
T27
(23)
DNP T62
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T48
(1)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T7
(18.33)
Bryson DeChambeau
(36.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T7
(36.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Pablo Larrazabal
(35 pts)
T51
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T48
(1)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
Takumi Kanaya
(35 pts)
T9
(45)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Wu Ashun
(35 pts)
T9
(45)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Saudi International

Player Dubai Desert Farmers Insurance Abu Dhabi American Express Sony Open Sentry T of C. Mayakoba DP World, Dubai RSM Classic South Africa Golf in Dubai Alfred Dunhill
Richard McEvoy
(-26.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Raphael Jacquelin
(-26.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Oliver Fisher
(-26.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Graeme McDowell
(-25.83 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
WD
(-2.5)
T59
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
David Howell
(-25 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP WD
(-1.67)
Maximilian Kieffer
(-23.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
David Law
(-23.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T59
(0)
Thomas Bjorn
(-23.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Alvaro Quiros
(-20 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
John Catlin
(-20 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T54
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz

Patrick Reed controversy

The most significant controversy of the year has to be Patrick Reed’s drop on Saturday at the Farmers International.  It was embroiled with a rules tsunami on Saturday, which, despite getting the OK of PGA Tour rules official, has placed Reed as public enemy #1 on social media.  Just about everyone in golf has mentioned that what Reed did was not right. Players are in an uproar over it and have to say that Reed may get a very cool welcome from his fellow players.  I watched Saturday telecast, and the moment it happened, I thought Reed was wrong.  Him just picking up the ball in that manner without telling his player partners and then moving the ball into a better lie didn’t sit well.  As the telecast went on, the mood was dark as every CBS announcer thought that what Reed did was wrong.  But the PGA Tour official that was part of the show, Ken Tackett, thought that Reed did everything within the rules.  On Monday was able to get in touch with two USGA rules officials, and both of them, to my surprise, said the same thing, Reed acted within his rights and did things correctly.   By the spirit of the game and because of his past actions, Reed wasn’t given the benefit of the doubt among those who might have been looking for him to violate a rule anyway.  For many, the question is not if Reed did things “legally” or if he should have followed the spirit of the game by calling in his playing partners and a rules official before he touched the ball.  So yes, this won’t die down. I think that Reed is in for a very tough time with other players, and frankly, every time Reed plays will be scrutinized by fellow players, the network covering the tournament, media, and fans.  I personally have never been a big Patrick Reed fan, but I have to say that I have to take this in and realize one crucial element.

For anyone that bets a dollar or two in golf, we now realize that when controversy surrounds Reed, that is the time to put all your money on Reed.  Reed has a way to quiet the critics by playing his best golf and winning tournaments in which he is embroiled in controversy.  I can give you several circumstances.  Last year Peter Kostis, who use to be an on course commentator for CBS, came out the week before the WGC-Mexico Championship and said that he saw Reed cheat on more than one occasion.  Now Reed had been involved with a Rules controversy two months before at the Hero Challenge, so in the practice rounds of the WGC-Mexico Championship, Reed had to answer a lot of questions.  Now before that week, in his first start after Hero, Reed finishes 2nd at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, losing to Justin Thomas in a three-hole playoff.  After that, Reed finished T-6th at Torrey Pines (a prelude to this year) and finished T-51st at the Genesis Open.  But who knows how, but Reed, despite the controversy, won in Mexico beating Bryson DeChambeau by a shot.  Now, this isn’t the first time we have seen this happen, Before the final round of the 2018 Masters, he played solid as a rock, but he didn’t get much support from the fans and media. They tried to bait him on several things.  But it was there that I learned the true Patrick Reed and how he has a way of taking negativity and turning it around, and he can power his feelings into positivity.  Saw it happen in France during the Ryder Cup, the fans got all over Reed, and he went out and dusted Tyrrell Hatton in their singles match.  The same thing in the 2016 Ryder Cup singles match, despite it, played in the United States he didn’t have American fans rooting for him as most of the gallery rooted for his opponent Rory McIlory who he beat.  The same in the 2014 Ryder Cup singles, Reed beat Henrik Stenson.  So you can see the point I am saying, when Reed has his back up against a wall, be sure to bet heavily on him because he has that talent of turning negativity and bad vibes into a positive and winning situation.  Reed, who is also a member of the European Tour, flew out from San Die go for the long 18-hour journey to Saudi Arbabi.  The same with Phil Mickelson, he also finished 72 holes in the Farmers and is playing in the Saudi Invitational.

European Tour schedule

With a good field at Saudi International, we will have three great weeks of golf to start out 2021 on the European Tour.  But on Sunday when the final putts drop, the European Tour goes into hibernation as the next European Tour event is the Qatar Masters on March 11th.  Unfortunately what the European Tour did was take the South African swing and made it part of the end to the 2020 season.  But doing that they help add to a schedule that was low on tournaments (38 was played in 2020 while 47 was played in 2019) but at the same time decimated the first part of 2021.  Unfortunately adding to their wounds was the cancellation of the Oman Open which was played the first week in March.  So on the schedule, there are four events before the Masters, but only two European Tour events the Qatar Masters and the Magical Kenya Open, which is more a second-tier event.  Another sad part of the schedule, the Qatar Masters is being played the same week as the Players Championship so the thought of any really good players going to Doha will be nonexistent.  For you wondering what the other two events before the Masters is on the schedule, it’s the WGC-Mexico and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship.  The good news, the week after the Masters is the Tenerife Open and with the announcement on Monday that the French Open is returning to the schedule on May 6th it means that every week will have a European Tour event through November 21st when the DP World Tour Championship is played.

Course information:

  • Royal Greens G. & C.C.
  • King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia
  • 7,010 yards     Par 35-35–70

Located about 100 miles north of Jeddah, this course opened in 2017.  Situated on the east coast of the Red Sea, that course winds around what was once desert land with the 16th hole playing directly along the shore of the Red Sea.  No two consecutive holes play in the same direction.  Many of the holes bend making drives on the doglegs pretty demanding.  Dave Sampson and the European Golf Design company design and built the course in what amounts to a new town coming out of the desert.  The course is part of a housing development and when they built it, they designed it to be friendly for its members but they also knew the Saudi International would be played on it so they built it with that in mind.  Another element that Sampson kept in mind was the location on the Red Sea and how the wind would be a key element in course strategy.  Water comes into play on six holes plus over 60 bunkers are placed to gobble up wayward shots.  The grass is Pure Dynasty, a paspalum variety that allows the course to be irrigated with seawater, but now with a desalination plant that is being used and the course is very lush.  The course plays through valleys but you know it’s the desert landscape that has been kept up on either side of the holes. The greens have a lot of humps and mounds, and you need to hit the right section of the green to have a possibility of a one or two-putt.

The area around the golf course

King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) is the largest privately-funded new city in the world. Situated on the west coast of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, KAEC covers an area of 181 square kilometers of land, approximately the size of Washington DC. KAEC comprises King Abdullah Port, the Coastal Communities residential districts, the Haramain Railway district, and the Industrial Valley. The city is under development by Emaar, The Economic City, a publicly listed Saudi joint-stock company established in 2006.

Tips for playing Royal Greens

Wish I had some but unfortunately with no stats from the two years that Dustin Johnson played in the event it’s hard to see how the winner and runner-up have done right.  It’s easy to see that fairway accuracy isn’t really a key, but hitting greens is.  Also, think that putting is very key on the tough greens of Royal Greens which has a lot of undulation in them.  So to set up a shot into the green a player has to make sure he sticks it on the right side of the pin so that he has a better putt at it.  A lot of desert courses are perfect for bombers, but we can see that isn’t the case with Royal Greens, short hitters have just as much of an advantage and with firm, hard fairways short hitters can hit it a mile.

So in making picks it’s best to look at past history and how players have done at Abu Dhabi and Dubai.  With COVID-19 being so bad in London, many writers are doing stories from home, so it’s hard to get any real news with nobody reporting from the course.  One thing to be aware of, Patrick Reed, Tony Finau, Viktor Hovland, Jhonattan Vegas, and Phil Mickelson made the trip from San Diego on Sunday to Saudi Arabia.  Even though they did it in a first-class manner, the 18-hour journey and the 12 hour time change has to be tough on them.  Now Mickelson and Reed have played this event before, but for Hovland and Finau this is their first time and since they will only get one practice round they are at a disadvantage.  One last thing about the week, the weather is going to be different each day, on Thursday will be dry and warm at 90 degrees, but Friday they are calling for rain with Thunderstorms.  Saturday will be sunny and 78 and Sunday it will be 85 and sunny.  Now all four days will see wins in the 15 to 20 mph zone.

DraftKings Tips

*Here are the guys that cost the most on DraftKings this week:

  • Dustin Johnson – $11,600
  • Bryson DeChambeau – $11,200
  • Patrick Reed – $10,800
  • Tyrrell Hatton – $10,500
  • Viktor Hovland – $10,300
  • Paul Casey – $10,100
  • Tony Finau – $9,900
  • Tommy Fleetwood – $9,700
  • Abraham Ancer – $9,500
  • Sergio Garcia – $9,300
  • Christiaan Bezuidenhout – $9,100
  • Matt Wallace – $9,000

When you look at the field, this is really stacked with a lot of great players and we have to make decisions based on how they are playing and how their games will connect with Royal Greens.  Right off the bat, we can see that Dustin Johnson at $11,600 is the pure favorite.  He has played in this event twice, winning it once and finishing 2nd last year.  Have to say despite the high cost you have to take him.  The same with Bryson DeChambeau at $11,200 who finished T-6th in 2019.  But look at how DeChambeau plays in the desert.  TPC Summerlin is a lot like Royal Greens in the way it’s going to play and in looking at DeChambeau’s record in the Shriners, in five starts he has four top-ten finishes including a win in 2019.  DeChambeau has also won the Dubai Desert Classic, now that course is a bit different than Royal Greens but hey a win in the desert is a win.  DeChambeau also was T-5th at the Phoenix Open in 2018, TPC Scottsdale is a lot like Royal Greens.  So the secret this week is to try to figure out a team with both Johnson and DeChambeau on it.  Since it means taking up $22,800 in the salary cap, that leaves you with just $6,800 per player after that which will be a real chore.  Patrick Reed is $10,800 and has to say think this won’t be his week.  Have to think he will be mentally tired, plus his record in two starts in this event is poor with a missed cut and 56th place finish, that and the fact he missed the cut in the desert at the American Express makes a decision on Reed easy.  Tyrrell Hatton at $10,500 is a bit harder, he hasn’t played in this event but has a good record in the desert.  Remember he won two weeks ago in Abu Dhabi and he was ok last week finishing T-22nd in Dubai, so yes he is a good pick.  Viktor Hovland is $10,300 comes off a week of being T-2nd at the Farmers, but he is playing this event for the first time and I just don’t think he will be able to cope with the long flight, time change, and lack of knowledge of the course.  Paul Casey at $10,100 is ok, he has never played the course but comes from a victory in Dubai last week.  His putting was good and if the trend continues he could easily win two weeks in a row.  Tony Finau at $9,900 has the same problems as Hovland, Finau was also T-2nd in San Diego but had to make the long journey to a course he will have limited time on and never has seen it.  So I say no for Finau.  Tommy Fleetwood is $9,700 and has to say no to him.  He has not played this event before and has not been sharp with his game of late finishing T-17th in Dubai and T-7th at Abu Dhabi.  Now Abraham Ancer at $9,500 is a very smart pick, first, he finished T-6th in this event last year, he made the trip over to Saudi Arabia early since he didn’t play in San Diego and was T-5th in his last start at the American Express on desert courses.  Sergio Garcia at $9,300 is also a good pick, was T-6th in this event last year and played well in Dubai finishing T-6th.  In a way, he could be a dark horse pick in this great field.  Christiaan Bezuidenhout at $9,100 would normally be ok, but with the field and the fact that he was T-21st last year, missed the cut the previous year along with finishing T-22nd in Dubai and T-12th in Abu Dhabi I say no.  Matt Wallace at $9,000 is a very easy no based on him finishing T-44th last year and missing the cut in this event in 2019.

*Players in that $7,500 to $8,900 price range, which ones are worth the money?:

Now we get to the meat of the picks, first Robert Macintyre at $8,900 has not played well in this event missing the cut last year and T-44th the previous year.  Yes, he was 3rd last week in Dubai, but too many better players and Macintyre’s price is too high.  Kevin Na at $8,400 is interesting, he is playing in Saudi for the first time.  Despite missing the cut at the American Express, he won in Hawaii and has won at TPC Summerlin, a course similar to Royal Greens.  Like Thomas Pieters at $8,300 because he was T-3rd last year and T-22nd in this event in 2019.  In his play, this year was T-27th in Dubai and T-41st in Abu Dhabi.  I have been keen on Rafael Cabrera-Bello since Abu Dhabi where he finished 4th and last week in Dubai where he finished T-35th.  He was T-56th last year in this event and I take him only because Cabrera-Bellow is only $8,000.  Matthias Schwab at $7,800 is worth a look, he was T-8th last week in Dubai and in the Saudi International was T-44th last year and T-24th in 2019.  Thomas Detry at $7,700 is also a good buy, he was T-9th last week in Dubai and T-6th in this event last year.  Many will say Ian Poulter at $7,600 is a good pick considering he was T-6th in this event in 2019 and T-17th last year.  But he missed the cut in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, so despite the low price, he is still a no.  Now Phil Mickelson at $7,600 is a yes due to him finishing T-3rd last year and he finished T-53rd at the Farmers.

*Some of the “bargains” this week?

So if you are going to take two high-cost picks, you need to find two or three bargains, but basically, players that will stick around for four days.  Ross Fisher at $7,200 has a good record in this event, was T-6th last year and T-13th in 2019.  His play this year is a problem, missed the cut in Abu Dhabi and was T-60th in Dubai.  But we have to go on the notion that he likes Royal Greens and will be good enough to make the cut.  Joost Luiten at $7,200 is another good choice, he was T-44th in this event last year and T-6th in 2019, like the fact that he was T-35th at Abu Dhabi and T-44th at Dubai.  Aaron Rai is $7,200 and finished T-27th in this event last year and T-34th in 2019, yes he missed the cut in Dubai but was T-25th at Abu Dhabi.  Justin Harding is $7,100 and was T-56th last year and T-11th at Royal Greens in 2019.  The good news he was T-62nd at Abu Dhabi and T-27th in Dubai.  Ryan Fox at $7,000 is good at the Saudi finishing T-27th last year and T-6th in 2019.  He missed the cut in Abu Dhabi but was T-41st at Dubai.  Now we have to find four guys below $7,000 and our first one is Fabrizio Zanotti at $6,900.  He was T-56th in this event last year and T-24th in 2019.  In Abu Dhabi he was T-7th and T-27th in Dubai, so he is a great bargain.  Also, like Gavin Green at $6,900, he was T-3rd last year and T-11th in 2019 so he like Royal Greens.  He missed the cut in Abu Dhabi and was 71st in Dubai, but you are picking him because he plays the course well and will make the cut.  Victor Dubuisson is also $6,900 and worth the price.  He was T-6th last year and T-18th in 2019 in this event.  For the year was T-25th at Abu Dhabi and may of missed the cut in Dubai but didn’t score that bad. Jordan Smith at $6,800 is also worth the gamble, he was T-56th last year and T-54th in 2019 at the Saudi, he was T-52nd at Abu Dhabi and T-60th in Dubai.  Richard Sterne at $6,800 he played in this event once in 2019 and was T-13th and this year is T-25th in Abu Dhabi and T-20th in Dubai.  Graeme McDowell is the defending champion and is just $6,700.  He missed the cut at both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, but I like him because last year he missed the cut in Dubai and won this event, so you have to think the course is good for him and he can make the cut.  Alexander Bjork is $6,600 and in the Saudi International last year was T-27th and at Abu Dhabi was T-46th and T-35th at Dubai.  Pablo Larrazabal is $6,600 and in playing the Saudi International was T61st in 2019 and T-13th last year.  He missed the cut at Abu Dhabi but did finish T-51st in Dubai.  Marcus Kinhult is $6,500 and in this event was T-56th last year and T-18th in 2019.  He missed the cut in Abu Dhabi and was T-60th in Dubai.  Now going lower into the depths Nino Bertasio is priced at $6,300 and he made the cut twice in the Saudi and was T-35th at Abu Dhabi and T-41st in Dubai.  I like a lot of things about Bertasio, first his high score this year was 75 in the first round at Dubai, but he followed it up with a 68 to make the cut.  Also, I like the fact that he shot 64 in the second round at Royal Greens in 2019 on the way to finishing T-30th.  His price makes him a real bargain.

Who to watch for at the Saudi International

Best Bets:

Dustin Johnson

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
2 Win

Great record in this event with a win and runner-up, he is going to be hard to beat.

Bryson DeChambeau

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T6

His length may be a big help for him, like how well he plays in the desert.

Paul Casey

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
First time playing in this event

Big winner in Dubai last week, like that his putter was good, if that continues he will be hard to beat this week.

Best of the rest:

Tyrrell Hatton

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
First time playing in this event

Never played in this event but his game has been great the last few months.

Sergio Garcia

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T6 DQ

This guy can sneak in and steal this event.

Abraham Ancer

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T6

He is someone that nobody will think of. But they should since he finished T-6th in this event last year and was T-5th in the desert two weeks ago at the American Express.

Kevin Na

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
First time playing in this event

Playing in this event for the first time, won at Sony and has won twice at TPC Summerlin a course similar to Royal Greens.

Thomas Pieters

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T3 T22

Was T-3rd last year and T-22nd in this event in 2019.

Solid contenders

Tony Finau

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
First time playing in this event

It’s going to be tough for him since he hasn’t played her before and gets in late, but he has traveled the world on done well when he should be jet lag.

Graeme McDowell

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
Win

Played great last year in winning.

Phil Mickelson

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T3

Made the trip last year and finished T-3rd.

Ross Fisher

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T6 T13

Was T-6th last year and T-13th in 2019.

Joost Luiten

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T44 T6

Was T-35th at Abu Dhabi and T-44th at Dubai.

 

Long shots that could come through:

Gavin Green

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T3 T11

Was T-3rd last year and T-11th in 2019 so he like Royal Greens.

Justin Harding

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T56 T11

Was T-56th last year and T-11th at Royal Greens in 2019. The good news he was T-62nd at Abu Dhabi and T-27th in Dubai.

Nino Bertasio

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T70 T30

Has made the cut twice in Saudi and was T-35th at Abu Dhabi and T-41st in Dubai.

Worst Bets:

Patrick Reed

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
CUT 56

He really doesn’t suit the course plus think he is going to be mentally exhausted after the Famers.

Viktor Hovland

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
First time playing in this event

Tough journey for him to make.

Tommy Fleetwood

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
First time playing in this event

Just hasn’t been good enough over the last six months.

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