British golf star joins elite field for Saudi tournament

Georgia Hall
Short Url
Updated 27 February 2020

British golf star joins elite field for Saudi tournament

  • The Saudi Ladies International will be the first professional women’s golf tournament held in the Kingdom

JEDDAH: English golf star Georgia Hall is the latest big name to be confirmed for the history-making inaugural Saudi Ladies International, the first time professional female golfers will play competitively in the country.

Hall stunned the golfing world in 2018 when she became the first English player in 14 years to win the Women’s British Open. The 23-year-old also won the Ladies European Tour (LET) Order of Merit in 2017 and 2018 as well as winning the Player of the Year accolade.

Last year Hall was part of a victorious European team that shocked the US for a first Solheim Cup victory in six years. The Bournemouth-born star competed in five matches in a tightly contested cup, with Europe winning by 14½ points to 13½.

The Saudi Ladies International will be the first professional women’s golf tournament held in the Kingdom. Hall is one of many headline names competing at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), near Jeddah, from March 19-22.

“I am pleased to be part of the first Saudi Ladies International as they look to make golfing history in the country,” said Hall. “From what I’ve seen of the golf course, it looks like a stunning setup on the Red Sea and a pretty challenging test — it’s a brilliant chance for us to showcase our game to newcomers to golf.”

Amy Boulden, who broke onto the golfing scene in 2013, will also compete in the debut tournament. “Our game continues to break new ground, and coming to new places like Saudi Arabia for the first time shows the ambition of Golf Saudi and the Tour,” she said. “I want to play well in a big event that can give me some momentum for the season.”

Sweden’s Camilla Lennarth, another big name in the field, said: “Playing golf in front of new fans is the best way to expand the game and hopefully we will inspire more girls to pick up a golf club and get involved in our great sport.”

A field of 108 female professionals will contest the $1 million prize fund, one of the richest prizes on the recently expanded LET calendar. Players from across the golfing globe will tee off in the Kingdom for the watershed tournament.

I am pleased to be part of the first Saudi Ladies International as they look to make golfing history in the country.

Georgia Hall, English golf star

Among the big names are Thai teenage sensation Atthaya Thitikul, a two-time winner on the women’s tour at just 17 years of age, as well as experienced South African star Lee-Anne Pace, who has 12 worldwide victories to her name.

Order of Merit winner Beth Allen, three-time LET winner Carly Booth and Solheim Cup winner Azahara Munoz are other leading players lining up for the tournament.

“Hosting another prestigious Championship in Saudi Arabia adds to an exciting golf calendar for fans in the region. With top female golfers from around the world coming to compete, it will be the first time we will see elite female golfers compete in the country,” said Yasir bin Othman Al-Rumayyan, chairman of Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation.

“The championship is open for everybody to attend throughout the four days and I encourage everybody to go along, watch world-class sport and enjoy the sport and entertainment on offer,” he added.

Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, which is set within KAEC, has had a busy start to 2020, already playing host to the European Tour’s Saudi International.

At last month’s second staging, Major champion Graeme McDowell came out on top, marking his first title on the European Tour since 2014 and pushing his world ranking from 104 to 47.

A decade after Lord’s scandal, match-fixing still haunts Pakistan cricket

Updated 05 June 2020

A decade after Lord’s scandal, match-fixing still haunts Pakistan cricket

  • Three Pakistani players were tried in a London court under Gambling Act and jailed in November 2011
  • Another two cases in 2017 have led to calls for the country to criminalize fixing

KARACHI: When Mohammad Amir bowled a no-ball against England on the opening day of the 2010 Test at Lord’s, no one could have imagined his long stride past the crease marked the first step in a historic fixing scandal.
Two days later it was revealed that three no-balls — two by Amir, and one by his pace partner Mohammad Asif — had been part of a shady betting deal.
Pakistan’s captain Salman Butt had orchestrated the deliberate no-balls in return for money offered by undercover journalist Mazhar Majeed posing as a bookmaker.
The scandal, exposed in the sting by Britain’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid, rocked the cricketing world, and aftershocks can still be felt a decade on in Pakistan.
Not only did that dark morning at the revered ‘home of cricket’ derail the careers of three players who were banned and jailed, the saga also led to calls for Pakistan to be booted from international cricket.
Butt, Amir and Asif were tried in a London court for offenses under the Gambling Act and were jailed in November 2011.
Announcing the sentences, the judge underscored the severity of the crime.
“The image and integrity of what was once a game, but is now a business, is damaged in the eyes of all, including the many youngsters who regarded three of you as heroes,” Justice Jeremy Cooke said.
It marked a new low for Pakistan cricket, already reeling from the aftermath of terror attacks in Lahore on the Sri Lankan team a year before, which triggered the suspension of home internationals.
Because he pleaded guilty earlier than his two teammates, and on account of his youth, the 18-year-old Amir received worldwide sympathy.
He was allowed to play international cricket again in 2016 and, now 28, has been successfully reintegrated into the Pakistan team.
Asif, who received a seven-year ban and a one-year prison sentence, is now 37 and in the twilight of his career.
Butt, 35, still harbors hopes of an international comeback after consistent domestic performances.
As the orchestrator of one of the darkest episodes in the cricket-mad country’s history, that seems unlikely, especially with match-fixing still haunting the game.
Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif were banned after a Pakistan Super League spot-fixing case in 2017.
And in April this year, the talented-yet-maverick Umar Akmal was banned in April for three years for failing to report fixing offers.

The cases have led to calls for the country to criminalize fixing, a campaign taken up by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
“We need to make match-fixing a criminal offense... I have talked to the government to bring in this change and make a law related to match-fixing,” PCB chairman Ehsan Mani said.
Former Pakistan captain-turned-commentator Ramiz Raja went a step further, recommending tainted players should not play again for the national team, as Pakistan contemplate the return of Sharjeel after serving his ban.
“We have suffered numerous times from bringing back tainted players yet we continue to welcome them just because of their talent,” Raja told AFP.
“We should avoid being desperate and rather give new talent a chance to prosper.
“Cricket cannot condone such behavior and fans need to realize that rooting for tainted players is actually harming Pakistan cricket and its image.”
On the field at least, Pakistan have managed to lift the clouds.
They found an astute skipper to replace Butt in Misbah-ul-Haq, who had been contemplating retirement after being left out for infamous England tour.
He led Pakistan to number one in the Test rankings in 2016.
A tentative return of international touring sides has followed, culminating in Azhar Ali having the honor of leading Pakistan in their first Test on home soil in 10 years when Sri Lanka played in Rawalpindi in December.