12 Mar 2020

Spotline set to shine on KSA again with Saudi Ladies International

The rapid development of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a burgeoning global golf destination continues apace this month when the inaugural Saudi Ladies International takes place at the stunning Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in Jeddah.

With the dust barely settled on Graeme McDowell’s victory in the second edition of the European Tour’s Saudi International powered by SBIA at the same venue, it’s the turn of the Ladies European Tour to break new ground.

The four-round event, taking place from March 19-22, will mark the first time that a professional ladies golf tournament has ever been hosted in the country and signals another significant moment in the Kingdom’s ongoing transformation as part of Vision 2030.


EQUALITY

“Our engagement with the Ladies European Tour is really crucial,” said Majed Al Sorour, CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi.

“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.”

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. – Majed Al Sorour, CEO of the Saudi Golf

A host of stars of the ladies’ game are set to contest the watershed event – one of the richest on the newly expanded LET – including Georgia Hall, who stunned the golfing world in 2018 when she became the first English woman to win the Women’s British Open in 14 years. The 23-year-old, who topped the LET Order of Merit in 2017 and 2018 with Player of the Year honours, was also part of the 2019 European Solheim Cup team that shocked the USA with a first victory in six years at Gleneagles.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be part of the first Saudi Ladies International and make golfing history in the country,” said Hall.

“From what I’ve seen of the golf course it looks a stunning set-up on the Red Sea and a pretty challenging test – it’s a brilliant chance for us to showcase our game to newcomers to golf.”

Joining Hall in the field is Beth Allen, winner of the 2016 Order of Merit, three-time LET winner Carly Booth, Solheim Cup winner Azahara Munoz and Amy Boulden, who is searching for a maiden victory on Tour.

“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,” said Boulden. “I want to play well in a big event that can give me some momentum for the season.”

Sweden’s Camilla Lennart, winner of the 2014 Ladies Slovak Open, who will also make the trip to Saudi, said: “Playing golf in front of new fans is the best way to grow the game and hopefully we inspire more girls to pick up a golf club and get involved in our great sport so I hope to see many people at the Championship next month.”

Amongst the big names are the likes of Thailand’s teenage sensation, Atthaya Thitikul, a two-time winner on the Ladies European 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.


EXCITING GOLF CALENDAR

“Hosting another prestigious Championship in Saudi Arabia adds to an exciting golf calendar for fans in the region and with top female golfers from around the world coming to compete it is sure to excite in what is the first time we are seeing elite female golfers compete in the country,” added Al Sorour.

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

It is hoped that the tournament, which 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.

Among those hoping to follow in the footsteps of those players taking part in the Saudi Ladies International is 16-year old Saudi amateur Layla AlTelmissani, who last year became one of the first females ever to represent the country when she formed part of the three-women Saudi Golf Federation national team that took part in the Pan Arab Golf Championship in Egypt. She’s now set her sights on another first for the ladies’ game in her country.

Layla and her family on the course at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club

“My dream is to become the first Saudi woman professional,” said AlTelmissani, who only took up the sport last year and is a member of Royal Greens.

“Golf is very stress relieving. Being out on the course takes you to this whole different environment, and I like that.

“I’ve been playing golf for around a year now. I play a lot of other sports, and golf was a suggestion my mum made as something else I could try. So I did, and ended up liking it.

“It gives you a lot of opportunities to learn and grow. I am happy when I’m out on the course playing – I love it. Of all the sports I play, golf is my favourite, definitely.”

The Saudi Ladies International, like it’s counterpart on the men’s Tour, will shine a seldom before seen spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s natural assets, as well as prioritising 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 which is one of many initiatives being rolled out under the guidance of Chairman H.E. Yasir Al-Rumayyan.

“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.”

For information about Golf Saudi and the Saudi Ladies International, please visit: www.golfsaudi.com/en-us/ladies-international/

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