Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: In a ground-breaking agreement, Saudi Arabia will host a fully sanctioned Ladies European Tour (LET) event in the Kingdom next year.
To be held from March 19-22, the tournament, which will carry a US$1 million prize fund, will be staged in collaboration with Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation, an Executive Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
The event is a watershed moment for the country, and will mark the first time that professional female golfers have played competitively in the country, breaking new ground in its on-going transformation as part of Vision 2030.
The 72-hole stroke play competition, which will be broadcast domestically and to some 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.
Commenting upon hosting the event for the first time and setting new precedents within the sport, His Excellency Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Chairman of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi, said: “We are delighted to be creating history by hosting the inaugural ladies professional tournament in March.
“I hope the tournament will inspire many women to take up the great game of golf and awaken their interest in this wonderful sport. We warmly welcome all the players to the Kingdom and wish everyone a rewarding experience in our magical country.”
Set within King Abdullah Economic City, Royal Greens Golf & Country Club also plays host to the European Tour’s Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers. At the first staging in 2019, Major champion Dustin Johnson emerged victorious and the former world number one will return to defend his title against a world-class field that also includes the likes of Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Tony Finau and Henrik Stenson, in January.
“I am incredibly excited by this announcement. It is an honour for the Tour to be part of history in bringing the first-ever professional women’s golf event to Saudi Arabia,” said Alexandra Armas, the LET’s Chief Executive Officer. “Confirmation of adding Saudi Arabia to our schedule for 2020 is an exciting prospect for everyone at the Ladies European Tour and having seen the quality of the event staging for the Saudi International, I am sure this will be a fantastic experience for our players.”
As well as confirming the historic tournament, Golf Saudi announced it is working with several LET stars in order to promote golf to domestic audiences and to enhance the visibility of Saudi’s golf development programme and its golf tourism offer internationally.
British stars Carly Booth, Amy Boulden and Rachel Drummond, and Swedish pair Camilla Lennarth and Isabella Deilert will all wear the Golf Saudi logo as ambassadors of the programme.
Looking ahead to the inaugural LET event, three-time Tour winner Booth said: “I’m looking forward to being part of history with the other ladies on the Tour and to competing over the Royal Greens course. I have visited Saudi Arabia on a number of occasions and been lucky enough to spend some time teaching local women and girls how to play. They have been so enthusiastic and I am sure that seeing professional golfers compete in their country will inspire them to take up the game and strive for their dreams.”
The 2020 event will showcase Saudi Arabia’s natural assets, as well as prioritising the country’s drive to increase golf participation significantly in the years to come. 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.