Saudi Arabia is to host its first professional tournaments for women in November, with two Ladies European Tour events scheduled to take place.The Saudi Ladies International will be held from 12-15 November, with the Saudi Ladies Team International from 17-19 November. Both tournaments will take place at the Royal Greens Golf Club.The first event had been set for March of this year but was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are extremely excited to be part of history in bringing the first professional women’s golf event to Saudi Arabia,” said Alexandra Armas, chief executive of the Ladies European Tour. “We are thankful to their commitment to deliver not one but two tournaments, in what has been a difficult year for golf.”
There will be a $1m (£780,000) prize fund for the singles tournament, with a further £500,000 pot for the team event, which will see professional players partner with amateurs in a new format. Both tournaments will be held within a bio-secure environment.
Wales’ Amy Boulden, who clinched the first LET title of her career at the Swiss Ladies Open earlier this month, said: “This type of commitment to women’s golf is really amazing to see at this time.
“It’s given players another massive week to look forward to competing in and allows us to take the game we love to a new country where we can play on what is a truly incredible golf course with one of the most picturesque views you’ll see on Tour.”
England’s Meghan MacLaren, who finished last season as the top British player on the LET, decided to boycott the event when it was scheduled for March for “sportswashing” reasons.
There have been accusations that Saudi Arabia is using tournaments such as these, or other events like last year’s heavyweight world title rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr, to divert attention away from human rights issues in the country.
However, the people behind bringing boxing, Formula E motor racing and golf, among other events to Saudi Arabia, have told BBC Sport “it’s all part of a programme designed to get people more active”.