Women golfers pose for a group photo. File
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Saudi Arabia will host professional golf tournaments for women for the first time ever in November at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in Jeddah.
The Saudi Ladies International will be the first Ladies European Tour (LET) event to take place in the country and will run from Nov.12-15, with a purse of $1 million, the third-highest paying event after the British and Scottish Open.
It was originally scheduled for March but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is set to attract more than 100 participants, including Wales’ Amy Boulden, who won her maiden LET event at this month’s Swiss Open.
It will be followed by the Nov.17-19 Saudi Ladies Team International, in which professionals will team up with amateurs and compete for a purse of $500,000.
Held within a safe bio-secure environment, both tournaments will attract many of the world’s best golfers, and will be the first time in women’s golf history that professionals – themselves competing in the Kingdom for the first time – will partner with amateurs in the all-new team and individual format promised for the Saudi Ladies Team International.
The events will be Saudi Arabia’s third and fourth professional tournaments in the past two years, having staged the Saudi International men’s event in 2019 and 2020.
“We are extremely excited to be part of history in bringing the first-ever professional women’s golf event to Saudi Arabia and we are thankful to their commitment to deliver not one but two tournaments, in what has been a difficult year for golf,” LET CEO Alexandra Armas chief said.
“We are always looking to grow the game in new markets and add to our schedule and we are confident that the Saudi Ladies International and the Saudi Ladies Team International will be a fantastic experience for our players,” Armas added.
Saudi Arabia has hosted several sporting events recently, including the heavyweight boxing title rematch between Britain’s Anthony Joshua and Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Jr in 2018, as well as the Italian Super Cup in 2018 and 2019.
Wales’ Boulden will be taking part in both of November’s events, fresh from her maiden LET win at this month’s Swiss Open.
She said: “This type of commitment to women’s golf is really amazing to see at this time. It’s given players another massive week to look forward to competing in and allows us to take the game we love to a new country, where we can play on what is a truly incredible golf course with one of the most picturesque views you’ll see on Tour.
“For Golf Saudi to throw their weight behind two events in one week is a really significant gesture from a country I know is passionate about growing golf, and I can’t wait to get out there playing.”
Yasir O Al Rumayyan, Chairman of the Saudi Golf Federation and tournament organiser Golf Saudi, said: “As we all know the first half of this year has been extremely challenging on businesses, organisations and nations worldwide, with sport affected greatly. However, we are thankful to both PIF and Aramco – who are equally determined to give elite level sport the platform to continue to flourish, both here in Saudi Arabia and abroad, and never more so than now – which makes us proud to be throwing our full weight behind both the Saudi Ladies International and Saudi Ladies Team International.”
The format of the Saudi Ladies Team International will be revealed in upcoming weeks, with the three-day event set to feature professional players teaming-up with amateur golfers, together competing for a share of a $500,000 prize-fund.
Majed Al Sorour, CEO Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation, said: “Our vision is to grow golf across the Kingdom, and make it both accessible and enjoyable to all men, women and children. One of our key initiatives for this is hosting tournaments capable of drawing the world’s best players as a means of inspiring the next generation of young Saudis and Saudi golfers, so it is a great honour to be taking our next step on that journey by welcoming the Ladies European Tour to the Kingdom for November’s debut Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by PIF and the Saudi Team International.”
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Starting the final day one shot behind overnight leader Sanna Nuutinen, the 27-year-old dealt with the pressure of trying to chase her first Ladies European Tour, putting in strong performances with both her irons and putter.
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