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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Saudi Gazette report
RIYADH — With four weeks to go for the conclusion of the inaugural Saudi Ladies International, preparations are well underway for this watershed moment. As the first-ever professional women’s golf event in the Kingdom, the Ladies European Tour (LET) event, will mark the first time that professional female golfers have played competitively in the country, breaking new ground in its ongoing transformation as part of Vision 2030.
Names already entered, include: Order of Merit winner Beth Allen, three time LET winner Carly Booth and Solheim Cup winner Azahara Munoz. The Saudi Ladies International will take place in the Kingdom from March 19 to 22. The tournament will carry a $1 million prize fund and will be staged in collaboration with Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation.
The 72-hole stroke play (four rounds) competition, will be broadcast domestically and to more than 340 million homes across more than 55 countries worldwide, will inspire a new generation of golfers throughout the Kingdom.A field of 108 LET professionals will contest for one of the richest prizes on the LET Schedule at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, near Jeddah, on the country’s stunning Red Sea coast.
“Our engagement with the Ladies European Tour is really crucial.” said Majed Al Sorour, CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi, looking ahead to next month’s first-ever tournament.
“At Golf Saudi we are looking for equality and that's why we reached out to the LET in order to host this tournament. Women should be able to compete on their own platform and that is why we focused on the prize money for the inaugural Saudi Ladies International. We felt past amounts weren’t sufficient and that is how we came up with the decision to make it $1 million. We wanted to send a message to our women and our daughters that we are looking for equality and golf can be a vehicle to achieve this.”
Next month’s Saudi Ladies International will once again showcase Saudi Arabia’s natural assets, as well as prioritizing the country’s drive to increase golf participation significantly in the years to come, particularly amongst young women, as part of Golf Saudi’s “Ladies First” campaign. The Kingdom already has a strong track record when it comes to staging high-level sporting fixtures, including major football, boxing, motorsport and equestrian events.
“Golf Saudi’s approach has been very clever in terms of growing the game,” said Ladies European Tour, CEO, Alexandra Armas. “By hosting the first-ever Saudi Ladies International and bringing in big stars, they’re drawing in the right attention and are opening a window into what the Kingdom has to offer for both players and visitors alike.”
Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, which is set within King Abdullah Economic City, has had an incredibly busy start to 2020, by already playing host to the European Tour’s Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers. At last month’s second staging, Major champion Graeme McDowell emerged victorious and the victory marked his first title on the European Tour since 2014 and also improved his world ranking from 104 to 47.
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