British golf star joins elite field for Saudi tournament

Georgia Hall
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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.

Jordan joins sports world’s call for change after Floyd death

Updated 01 June 2020

Jordan joins sports world’s call for change after Floyd death

  • I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry. We have had enough: Michael Jordan

LOS ANGELES: NBA legend Michael Jordan decried “ingrained racism” in the US as the sports world’s reaction to the death of unarmed black man George Floyd leapt leagues and continents.

“I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry,” Jordan said Sunday, as protests over Floyd’s death on May 25 spawned violence and looting across the US. “I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country.

“We have had enough,” added Jordan, who was famously reluctant to comment on social issues during his playing career.

Floyd died after a white policeman in Minneapolis held his knee on the handcuffed man’s neck for several minutes.

“We need to continue peaceful expressions against injustice and demand accountability,” Jordan said.

Jordan joined a chorus of voices from the NBA, NFL and other US sports demanding change for black Americans, but the demands went far beyond America.

World champion driver Lewis Hamilton lashed out at “white-dominated” Formula One for failing to speak out against racism.

Hamilton warned “I know who you are and I see you” as the Briton accused his fellow drivers of “staying silent in the midst of injustice” following Floyd’s death.

French footballer Marcus Thuram and England international Jadon Sancho both mounted individual protests calling for justice for Floyd after scoring in Germany’s Bundesliga on Sunday.

Thuram took a knee after his goal for Borussia Moenchengladbach in a match against Union Berlin, while Sancho marked one of his three goals for Borussia Dortmund against Paderborn by lifting his jersey to reveal a T-shirt bearing the words “Justice for George Floyd.” 

Thuram’s gesture echoed the protest against US racism spearheaded by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose decision to kneel during the national anthem at games in 2016 sparked outrage.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sent an internal memo to the league’s employees saying it shares “the outrage” at the death of Floyd — which comes in the wake of the police killing in Kentucky of emergency health worker Breonna Taylor in her home, and the fatal shooting of unarmed black jogger Ahmaud Arbery.

“We are being reminded that there are wounds in our country that have never healed,” Silver said in the memo published by Yahoo.

“Racism, police brutality and racial injustice remain part of everyday life in America and cannot be ignored.”

With US pro sports on hold during the coronavirus pandemic, American athletes had no chance to demonstrate on the field of play.

Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown drove 15 hours to lead a peaceful protest march in Atlanta, Georgia.

“First and foremost, I’m a black man and I’m a member of this community,” the Georgia native said.

Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, himself the son of a policeman, said that as violence escalated it was imperative to keep Floyd’s death at the forefront.

“The response we are seeing across the nation, to the murder of George Floyd, is decades in the making,” Rivers said in a statement. “Too often, people rush to judge the response, instead of the actions that prompted it.

“We have allowed too many tragedies to pass in vain. This isn’t an African-American issue. This is a human issue,” Rivers said.

US tennis great Serena Williams posted an Instagram video featuring a young African-American girl overcome by emotion as she addressed a public meeting, finally able to force out the words: “We are black people, and we shouldn’t have to feel like this.”

Teenage tennis phenomenon Coco Gauff had a simple question on her Instagram post: “Am I next?”

And two-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka, whose mother is Japanese and father Haitian, reminded her social media followers: “Just because it isn’t happening to you doesn’t mean it isn’t happening at all.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the violent protests “reflect the pain, anger and frustration that so many of us feel”.

With Kaepernick still unable to find a job in the NFL, not everyone was convinced by Goodell or by San Francisco 49ers chief executive Jed York, who pledged $1 million to combat systemic racial discrimination.

Former 49er Eric Reid, who knelt alongside Kaepernick, tweeted: “Nobody wants your money Jed. We want justice.”