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Cameron Smith will take part in the PIF Saudi International next month. Photo: EPA-EFE

Asian Tour: Open champion Cameron Smith added to field for PIF Saudi International

  • World No 3 joins defending champion Harold Varner III and 30 top-ranked players on the Tour
  • Tournament will take place at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club from February 2 to 5
Asian Tour

There will be a dose of star power on display at next month’s PIF Saudi International, with Open Championship winner Cameron Smith added to the field for the first event of the Asian Tour’s 2023 season.

The Australian, who is presently ranked No 3 in the world, will join defending champion Harold Varner III and the 30 top-ranked players on the Tour at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club from February 2 to 5.

Smith is in red-hot form going into the tournament, having won the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship for the third time in November.

“The Saudi International regularly has one of the biggest line-ups of the season,” Smith said.

“It’s always good to play in a world-class field, I am looking forward to taking on some familiar faces and also competing with the best that the Asian Tour has to offer. I had a great experience at the Royal Greens last year and hopefully I can take it to the next level this year.”

Harold Varner III celebrates on the 18th green after winning this year’s PIF Saudi International. Photo: Asian Tour

The PIF Saudi International moved to the Asian Tour circuit in 2022, and the event already has a huge legacy going next month’s tournament. Past champions include two-time Major winner Dustin Johnson, who won in 2019 and 2021, as well as 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell and defending champion Varner.

“The field for the fifth edition of the event is taking shape and we are delighted to welcome Cameron Smith,” Majed Al-Sorour, CEO and Deputy Chairman of Golf Saudi, said. “As reigning Open champion and PGA Player of the Year for 2022, he is one of the biggest names in golf, and his participation once again shows the high level of interest in the PIF Saudi International.

“The combination of world-class golfers and mass participation programmes we have developed are helping us to grow the game in the Kingdom, and year on year we have seen more and more first-time golfers and schools taking up this wonderful sport.”

Separately, in Melbourne, the Australian Master of the Amateurs was finely poised heading in Friday’s fourth round.

Two players from Taiwan tied the course record at Southern Golf Course on Thursday, with Stanley Lin and Chi Chun Chen both carding eight-under-par 64s.

The men’s championship race is tightening up, with England’s John Gough leading the charge at 11-under, closely followed by Scotland’s Gregor Tait on 10-under and Chen at nine-under.

Hong Kong’s Taichi Kho had played himself into contention during his third round, and was seven-under for the tournament until he dropped four shots in two holes and finished at one-over for the day and three-under overall.

In the women’s competition, Japan’s Yuna Araki leads the pack at 10-under, five shots clear of Taiwan’s Hsin Chun Liao, with Mamika Shinchi and Fiona Xu a stroke further back.

Kho’s Hong Kong teammate Chloe Chan is in a three-way tie for fifth at two-over, after carding a level-par round of 73.