Madappa, Joshi and Chikka take India's strength at Saudi International to seven

India's Viraj Madappa tallied 10-under for the 36-hole Saudi International qualifier to win it by four shots and make the main draw of the $5 million Saudi International next week.

Madappa joined Shubhankar Sharma, Rashid Khan, Veer Ahlawat and Shiv Kapur, who are already in the field for the star-studded lucrative event. (File Photo)   -  The Hindu

India's Viraj Madappa tallied 10-under for the 36-hole Saudi International qualifier to win it by four shots and make the main draw of the $5 million Saudi International next week.

The qualifier was played at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Madappa joined Shubhankar Sharma, Rashid Khan, Veer Ahlawat and Shiv Kapur, who are already in the field for the star-studded lucrative event, which will herald the start of the 2022 Asian Tour season.

Making it sweeter for the Indian contingent was that Khalin Joshi, who failed to finish in Top-2 of the qualifiers also got into the field, as did S Chikkarangappa. That brought the total number of Indians in the field to seven.

The tournament, taking place at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club from February 3-6, will feature the strongest field ever assembled for an Asian Tour event.

The cream of the Asian Tour will compete in next week's PIF Saudi International. The field includes six Asian Tour number ones and over 50 Asian Tour players, who between them have hundreds of Tour titles.

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The field, which includes some of the top stars of the world like former World No. 1 Dustin Johnson and US Open winner, Bryson DeChambeau, will see some young and upcoming Asian stars like Jooyhung Kim, 19, competing against them.

Kim just secured the 2020-21 Asian Tour Order of Merit title at the weekend, after finishing joint second in the SMBC Singapore Open.

Other world stars in the field include Olympic champion Xander Schauffele, multiple Major winner Phil Mickelson, Cameron Smith, former Masters champion Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood, and Ian Poulter, among others.

Korea's Kim leads an impressive line-up which includes former Merit list champions Thongchai Jaidee from Thailand (2001, 2004, 2009), his compatriot Jazz Janewattananond (2019), India's Shubhankar Sharma (2018), Malaysia's Gavin Green (2017), and Australian Scott Hend (2016).

Majed Al-Sorour, Deputy Chairman and CEO of Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation, said: "It's incredibly exciting to enter a new era for the tournament in partnership with the Asian Tour by seeing the elite players from the region take on the world here in Saudi Arabia.

"There are some brilliant players who have qualified alongside some rising stars of the game across Asia that will have an amazing opportunity and platform next week to showcase their talent, in the strongest field in our history." The Asian Tour resumed play at the end of last year, following a 20-month break caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with back-to-back events in Phuket.

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