World No 1 Justin Rose targets success at inaugural Saudi International
Englishman points to previous cases of players succeeding in the Middle East leading to strong performances later in the golfing year
World No 1 Justin Rose believes that putting in a strong performance at the inaugural Saudi International this weekend can help him challenge for majors in 2019.
The Englishman is part of a field that includes four of the world's top five male golfers that will tackle the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City as Saudi Arabia plays host to its first European Tour event.
The 2013 US Open winner tees off on Thursday at 8.55am UAE time in a group with world No 2 Brooks Koepka and Henrik Stenson.
Rose said history indicates that good form in the tournaments played in the Middle East can translate into success later in the year and that was what he was targeting.
"We’ve seen in the past players who play well in the Middle East early in the year going on to have very successful seasons," he said.
"Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year, for example, or Danny Willett three years ago winning in Dubai and then at the Masters. The Saudi International is an opportunity for players to lay down a marker in a strong field."
Rose said he had welcomed the chance to be part of the field for the event in Saudi.
"Any time you have a chance to be part of a historic moment in the game, it’s hard to turn down," he said.
"It’s an honour to play a small part in making history by playing in the first professional tournament ever held in Saudi Arabia.
"Professional golfers thrive on testing themselves against strong fields on high-quality golf courses.
"It’s always fantastic to see golf moving into new areas and countries, and exposing it to people who have not had much opportunity to watch or play golf before. It’s exciting for the game to grow around the world and break new ground.
Rose has already tasted victory in 2019, having won the Farmers Insurance Open in California by two shots on Sunday.
This came after a historic past 12 months in which he became world No 1 for the first time in his career, and helped Europe regain the Ryder Cup from the United States.
But the 38 year old has said he has no plans to rest on his past achievements in the coming months.
"2018 was a very special year with a lot of great moments," he added. "Reaching world No 1 for the first time was another landmark and one I’m very proud of.
"I never like to reflect too much though; I’m more focused on moving forwards and continuing to improve, so this year is all about building on everything we achieved last year and hopefully surpassing it."
Rose finished joint-second at the British Open last July, two shots behind Ryder Cup teammate Francesco Molinari, but he says he is not putting himself under personal pressure to add a second big title to his 2013 US Open success this season.
"I would love to win another major, but as I said previously, I tend not to set many outcome goals," he said. "I prefer to stick to my processes and trust they will ultimately bring about success."
The Saudi International runs through until Sunday with 132 players competing on the par-70 course that covers 7,010 yards.
Updated: January 30, 2019 11:50 AM