Saudi Arabia to stage first professional ladies golf tournament

The first professional ladies golf tournament in Saudi Arabia in March is sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour. (Photo/Supplied )
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Updated 12 December 2019

Saudi Arabia to stage first professional ladies golf tournament

  • Royal Greens Golf & Country Club will host a Ladies European Tour event in March

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia continued its groundbreaking sporting development with Thursday’s announcement that a Ladies European Tour (LET) event will take place at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City from March 19 to 22.

The 72-hole stroke play tournament will be the first time that professional female golfers have played in the Kingdom and will  have a $1 million prize fund for which 108 golfers are expected to compete. It will be broadcast domestically and to more than 340 million homes across more than 55 countries worldwide, according to a press release from Golf Saudi.

Royal Greens Golf & Country Club is also the host of the men's European Tour’s Saudi International. Dustin Johnson won the first staging of the competition this year and will return in January to defend his title against a world-class field including Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Tony Finau and Henrik Stenson.

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, chairman of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi, said in the press release announcing the ladies competition: “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.”

“I am incredibly excited by this announcement and it is an honor for the Tour to be part of history in bringing the first-ever professional women’s golf event to Saudi Arabia,” said LET CEO Alexandra Armas in the press release. “(It) is an exciting prospect for everyone at LET 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.”

Alongside the announcement of the tournament, Golf Saudi also revealed several new ambassadors from the LET who will help to promote golf in the Kingdom. The UK’s Carly Booth, Amy Boulden and Rachel Drummond, and Swedish pair Camilla Lennarth and Isabella Deilert will each wear the Golf Saudi logo as ambassadors of the program.

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 of course 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.”


‘I couldn’t see where I was going,’ says Lewis Hamilton after Austria rain masterclass

Updated 11 min 8 sec ago

‘I couldn’t see where I was going,’ says Lewis Hamilton after Austria rain masterclass

  • After a disappointing practice day on Friday, the six-time world champion bounced back to his best

SPIELBERG, Austria: Lewis Hamilton said he survived some “heart in the mouth” moments on Saturday as he claimed a spectacular pole position in treacherous rain-swept conditions for Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix.
After a disappointing practice day on Friday, the six-time world champion bounced back to his best as he outpaced nearest rival Max Verstappen of Red Bull by more than 1.2 seconds.
His dramatic demonstration of supreme skill and speed on a wet track at the Red Bull Ring increased his record total of pole positions to 89.
“Honestly, I am pleased with that,” he said.
“What a tricky day! The weather is obviously incredibly difficult out there for all of us and, a lot of the time, you cannot actually see where you are going.
“I had one big moment, on the lap before last, when I had a big aquaplane.
“I had my heart in my mouth, but I was able to improve on the last lap, nice and clean. I love these days.”
The 35-year-old Briton had struggled with set-up issues on his Mercedes in Friday’s practice sessions, but said the team had resolved them and he was confident about Sunday’s race, whatever the conditions.
“Yesterday was a difficult day,” said Hamilton.
“It started off well in FP1 and then in FP2 there was a big issue for us, but we discovered it overnight — nothing major.
“I think today would have been better for us if it had been dry, but I am grateful for the rain, like always! I love these kind of conditions.
“Tomorrow looks like a much sunnier day, but we are prepared for both conditions and that’s where I want to start.
“So, I am glad it was a trouble-free session with no mistakes. That’s always a positive.”
Hamilton’s performance enabled him to prove also that his form has not been affected by his passionate support for the global Black Lives Matter movement and the anti-racism efforts launched in Formula One.
“I don’t feel like I need to refocus,” he said this week after finishing fifth in last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian Grand Prix on the same circuit, won by his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
“My race was pretty strong. I need to do a better job, but I wouldn’t say I was distracted. I am focused on both — trying to fight and win this championship, but also fighting for equal rights.”
On Thursday, he said he was hoping to be able to take the knee again — as he and 13 other drivers did before last Sunday’s race — and was seeking a way to make this possible.
“If I can find a way of making sure it doesn’t get in the way of us doing our job, then I will,” he said.