04 Jan 2022 | Professional golf |

Top 3 Aussies in Saudi field

by PGA of Australia

Smith, Leishman Saudi image
Olympians Marc Leishman (left) and Cameron Smith are among the four Aussies in the field for Saudi Arabia

By Tony Webeck

Australia’s top three male golfers are among the latest names to be added to the field for the 2022 PIF Saudi International.

Now being billed as the strongest field ever assembled for an Asian Tour event, the $US5 million Saudi International to be played at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club from February 3-6 had previously announced Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Louis Oosthuizen, Sergio Garcia, Xander Schauffele, Tommy Fleetwood and Phil Mickelson as confirmed starters along with Australia’s only Masters champion, Adam Scott.

Scott will now be joined by fellow countrymen Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman and Lucas Herbert who were announced on Monday night alongside 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed and 2021 runner-up Tony Finau.

Smith, Leishman and Herbert are part of a five-strong Aussie contingent opening their 2022 campaigns at this week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii and must now commit to playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2023 and 2024 as a condition of their release from the PGA Tour to play in Saudi Arabia.

Currently ranked No.21 in the world, Smith has not played since finishing in a tie for fourth at the RSM Classic in November while Herbert returns to the US Tour after spending a month back in Australia celebrating his two-win 2021 season.

Committed to play this week and the Sony Open the following week, the Saudi International invitation is another opportunity made available to the 26-year-old now ranked No.41 in the Official World Golf Rankings.

The envelope containing his invitation to play The Masters for the first time is waiting for him in Florida, his victory at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship in late October opening the doors to the game’s most prestigious and richest events.

“The next 12 months are going to be a great experience,” Herbert said before flying out to Hawaii on Monday.

“I’ve got not a lot of pressure on me in the next 12 months in terms of not having to play to keep my tour card.

“I’m nearly locked into all four majors, I’m nearly locked into all the WGCs and I’m going to make good money. I’m going to have a lot of fun this year playing all these events with no added pressure that I have to perform.

“Obviously, I’ve got my own goals and my own aspirations and pressure that I put on myself to play well but there’s none externally for me to try and do anything crazy and out of the box.

“Whether it’s Kapalua or whether it’s Phoenix for the Waste Management, or whether it’s the Masters, whether Memorial again, the Irish Open, I’m going to have a hell of a lot of fun this year.”

Further Australians will be added to the Saudi International field in the coming weeks.

The leading 30 players from the final 2020-21 Asian Tour Order of Merit ‒ which will be finalised after this month’s The Singapore International and SMBC Singapore Open – will also be added to the field.

The Aussies currently inside the top 30 are Wade Ormsby (first), Brad Kennedy (sixth), Andrew Dodt (11th), Travis Smyth (20th) and Scott Hend (21st).

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