Saudi International – Fantasy Golfanac

Course Details

Royal Greens G&CC in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia
Inaugural Edition in 2019

7,010 yards – Par 70 – Paspalum Dynasty Greens
Fairways and Rough: Paspalum Dynasty
Architect: Dave Sampson of European Golf Design (2017)
10-Year Scoring Average: N/A

Important Interview Quotes

Q. We’ve seen 63 on Thursday morning, 61 from your good friend DJ this morning. You’re going to have an early tee time. A sense of opportunity?
BROOKS KOEPKA:
Yeah, I think so. The wind doesn’t pick up really until a little after noon, so in the morning you definitely have a good opportunity to shoot a low number. I’ve just got to figure out these greens. I missed an eight-footer by about two and a half feet, things like that. It’s just read, then your confidence starts to go a little bit and you’re not really sure about the line, the read, and you just never really get settled over it. -2019

Q. You’ve added a 70 today to yesterday’s 69. A little bit difficult conditions, but how would you assess your play?
BROOKS KOEPKA:
I played really well. I played good enough to be right up there around the lead, but I don’t know, I can’t figure out these greens. You can hit three putts and they’ll go three different ways. It’s frustrating. You try to stay patient, but it does get frustrating, and it kind of builds up. -2019

Q. How well did you play today?
ALEX LEVY:
I played really good. I’m really happy. I played terrible yesterday, but I managed to shoot 1-under in tough conditions, so that was good. This morning the conditions was a little bit easier, and I hit some good drives, so that helped, and had some short irons. With short irons you can go to the flags. I played really good golf, so I’m very pleased with that. -2019

Q. How different were conditions today to yesterday? Was it much easier?
FABRIZIO ZANOTTI:
Yes, exactly. Yesterday we were playing like two clubs wind, and today it was just a little breeze. Yes, it was totally a different golf course, I think. -R2 morning tee time

Q. Is part of that the speed? Obviously they’re tough to read because of the undulation, but also you’re not really used to this sort of speed. They’re only 10.3 on the stimp. You’re used to 11, 12, 12 and a half.
DUSTIN JOHNSON:
10.3 would be pushing it very high. But yeah, I mean, they’re slow, but yeah, they’re just tough to read. The slopes — the ones that are on slopes are easy to read. It’s the ones that are a little flatter, they just seem like they’ve got a little bit of grain in them, so the grain really affects them. Yeah, it’s just tough to get a good read on them. -2019

Q. Thoughts on your round today?
JUSTIN ROSE:
We had it calm this morning and knew tomorrow afternoon obviously the wind is going to pick up, so you had to take advantage of the golf course this morning.

Had the opportunity to hit a lot of shots close to the hole and couldn’t make the putts. Collectively our group was probably the worst putting round I’ve seen for three professional golfers in a long, long time but the greens were very tricky, very, very grainy. It was tough to factor it in, really, I think.

But I certainly missed ten putts probably within six to ten feet range. You make half of those and it’s a good round of golf. Gave myself plenty of chances and played well and really felt like I came out playing well. I got caught between clubs twice today and chose the wrong shot I think and ended up making bogey off both of those decisions. For the most part, played well. -2019, R1

Q. Just going back to the greens, what are you going to do to try to find your touch on the greens?
JUSTIN ROSE:
Talk to you. Get a lesson. I think I haven’t paid attention to the grain. I think it’s a big factor on these greens.

Normally the greens we play on, grain is a marginal factor. It’s not really changing your read from six, seven, eight feet too much. I think here it’s certainly changing the read.

The last hole I was confident in my read but I pulled the putt. Most of the putts, I hit where I wanted to and misread them and I think just got to pay close attention to the grain tomorrow. -2019, R1

Q. Tell us a bit about this golf course. Of course you’ve seen it for the first time but all of the field have seen it for the first time. What do you have to do well around it?
ALFIE PLANT:
You have to do well off the tee, and also, the greens are quite undulating. So you’ve got quite a lot of bowls out there which if you can get in them, you can certainly have a few birdies. Yeah, probably driving and into the greens. -2019

Q. Do you think this golf course suits your game?
ALFIE PLANT:
Yeah, it does to a certain extent. I feel like the bunkers are placed at nice distances for me to lay up to and not get into too much trouble. It suits my eye, and you know, if you can get your iron play, go at the flags, you can make a good score out here. -2019

Q. 7 birdies and no bogeys. How well do you think you played?
THOMAS PIETERS:
I hit my wedges and short irons really close to the hole. I think I had maybe ten good chances for birdie and made 7 of them. It’s a very good day on the greens, as well. Long putts, as well. It’s tricky because the greens are not that fast. -2019

Q. What did you think of the golf course when you first saw it? Because obviously we are all seeing it for the first time this week.
THOMAS PIETERS:
I thought with the wind it’s going to play quite easy. If you play in the morning, you’re going to have to make a good score. It needs some wind, and with wind, they can tuck the pins away pretty good here.I think if we get a lot of wind, then it’s going to play pretty tricky as well. -2019

Q. Does this course suit long hitters?
THOMAS PIETERS:
Yeah, I can carry a couple of bunkers, but I think everybody is hitting it far. It’s warm. It’s hot. The ball is traveling far. I definitely drove it well today, and obviously those ten, 15 extra metres can help sometimes, yeah. -2019

Q. Was it important to get off to a good start, because it can get windy in the afternoon.
THOMAS PIETERS:
Yeah, we knew that. They said around 11.30 or 12.00, it’s going to pick up every day, and it did. We played eight holes or nine holes in the wind, but it wasn’t that windy. It was half a club of wind. -2019

Q. Being such a young golf course, you said that you thought it was gettable until the wind picked up. Can you give us an idea of what are the keys to this golf course and maybe the holes that you really liked out there?
PATRICK REED:
I mean, really it all depends on the wind direction and what the wind is doing because if the wind is calm, if you’re hitting your driver well, you can really attack this golf course and kind of feed it into the necks and get it up closer where you have wedges in your hand. With having wedges in your hand, the greens are soft enough, receptive enough that you can attack the golf course. You know, the hard thing about the golf course is when the wind blows, even though the greens are large in actual size, there’s a lot of slopes, so there’s a bunch of quadrants you’ve got to get the ball into, and if you’re not in the right quadrant, you’re going to have some of these putts that are going to be almost impossible for a two-putt, depending on how hard the wind is blowing.

You know, it’s going to put a premium on ball-striking if the wind is up, and if the wind is not up, really I feel like it’s more of a premium on driving and putting because if you put wedges in guys’ hands, a poor wedge on Tour nowadays is 20 feet, and you still have the opportunity of making that putt. But if you can play out of that short grass here and kind of keep it out of the fairway bunkers, you’re going to be able to really score and attack this golf course. -2019

PATRICK REED: Today being out there, playing the first time for the full 18, first 10, 11 holes, I felt like, all right, this golf course is very gettable because the winds were down. When that wind starts picking up, it’s a completely different golf course. -2019

JUSTIN ROSE: I used the putting green yesterday. The paspalum grass is actually one of my favourite grasses to play. It’s almost a new grass. I think sort of 15, 20 years ago, they said it was a grass for resort courses, but the way they are able to maintain it now, I think it’s a grass that works really well for tournament play. The ball sits perfectly on it and it’s a really fun grass to play on. -2019

Q. It’s a golf course that you haven’t seen before. You’ve been on Tour a long time. Very few places you turn up that you don’t know like the back of your hand now. What’s it like to come somewhere like this, especially out in the morning starters on the first day and you have no idea what a good score is. What’s the strategy when that is the case?
ROSS FISHER:
Yeah, we played 18 Tuesday, because I wasn’t in the Pro-Am. Kind of felt like we got a good feel for the golf course. Only two par 5s. Some good par 3s.

But it’s just where the pins are. The pins can really trick the golf course up. Today we got lucky, there’s been not much breeze. We were thinking close on minus 20 maybe could win if there’s no breeze. But then again, if the wind picks up, maybe low to mid teens.

You’ve got to try and attack because the greens are very, very close but they are very slopey. If you hit in the wrong spots or wrong segments on the greens, you can really struggle around there. I felt like I did that really well today. -2019

Q. Most players have told me that this course is suited to long hitters. Do you think this course suits your game?
ROSS FISHER:
You know, I mean, it’s a fairly long course. It’s pretty generous off the tee. There’s not an awful lot of rough, but you know, having said that, you still need to concentrate and focus on your lines, because if you don’t focus on your line, and you are a bit crooked, trying to get to some of these pin positions, even like I say, there’s not much rough, or even if you hit it in the waste bunkers, the Tour can be very, very smart with where they put the pin positions. There wasn’t too many out there today, but it’s only day one, so I’m sure they will look at scoring today and I can imagine it getting tougher as the week goes on. -2019

STEVE TODD: Obviously a very productive trip so far, and now the chance to go up against four of the top five, major winners and a great field here. Give us your thoughts on that challenge ahead.
BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU:
I haven’t seen the course yet but from what I’ve heard, it’s kind of like a bomber’s paradise a little bit. We have to hit some good iron shots in there on the right tiers. I think that’s going to be the challenge this week is hitting it to the right tiers of the greens, and so all the top guys in the world right now are great ball strikers, and you know, the end of the day, it’s going to be difficult, but it’s going to be a great test that I’m looking forward to. -2019

Toby Ingleton: “No two consecutive holes play in the same direction,” says Sampson of the 6,900 yard, par 72 routing, “and the wind will be a key and variable factor in the course’s strategy. Golfers will also need to be thoughtful from the tee, in particular on the dogleg holes which require precision placement.”

Royal Greens is grassed throughout with Pure Dynasty, a paspalum variety supplied by Atlas Turf, allowing the course to being irrigated with sea water, once treated by the desalination plant. “I’m really pleased with how the greens are performing,” says Sampson, explaining that the course was sprigged with grass grown from seed on the course’s turf nursery.

-2018, GolfCourseArchitecture.net

Past Previews