Aramco Team Series: Olivia Cowan loving the camaraderie as well as the competition

Second leg of new Golf Saudi-backed initiative gets underway at Sotogrande on Thursday

As the winning captain of the inaugural Aramco Team Series event, it shouldn't surprise that Olivia Cowan would rather focus on the collective once more in Spain this week.

Not that she isn’t gunning for success this time in the individual tournament that runs concurrently in Sotogrande, the second of four events in the new Golf Saudi-backed initiative. It’s just that her excellent victory in the team competition at London’s Centurion Club last month has left her hugely enamoured with that side of the format.

“I really like it,” she says of the Aramco Team Series that, after La Reserva Club de Sotogrande, will land in New York in October and then culminate in Jeddah the following month. “It’s a great event.

“I would like it even more if we didn’t have the individual bit, because we are trying to win the team event. I think we’d go for it a lot more, would risk a lot more shots, and act more as a team if it was just the team.

“But I do really like this event. It’s something different than every other week when it’s the same thing, where we’re playing only for ourselves. So it’s quite nice that we have a team event and we’re all trying to win together.”

The plush surroundings in Sotogrande certainly must add to the allure. London wasn’t too shabby either, with Team Cowan triumphing there at the end of the 54-hole tournament by three shots. Each event plays out across three days and carries with it a total prize fund of $1 million, with $800,000 divvied-up between the three professionals in the winning side (the fourth team member is an amateur). The individual competition carries the other $200,000.

If player reactions this week are anything to go by, the injection of both money and innovation into the Ladies European Tour (LET) has created quite the buzz among its participants.

“One-hundred per cent,” Cowan says. “Saudi golf has done amazing things. They’re obviously trying to help the women’s game and really push it. They’re just amazing supporters. What they’re trying to do to help us on the LET as well is brilliant, and respect to them for what they’re doing.

“What’s great about this event is we have a great players’ lounge and there are stands everywhere, so it just gives everyone a really good feeling coming into this place.

“A lot of people are playing with their friends so they’re excited to come here as well. It’s just a chilled week to be honest; there’s not so much pressure.”

However, do not take that as Cowan’s competitive juices running low. After all, the German comes into the week as a defending champion of sort, and her bid to go back-to-back in the series should be enhanced by the retaining of compatriot Sarina Schmidt as teammate. The 36 captains – Cowan is one – got to choose their second colleague at Tuesday night’s draft, while the third member of the team was later randomly assigned. For Diksha Dagar in London, Team Cowan have Frenchwoman Anaelle Carnet in Sotogrande.

“Yeah, we want to win again,” Cowan says. “I’m so happy I’ve got Sarina again in the team and I hope we do well. I knew I was going to pick her again, so I was just hoping that no one would select her before me.

“When I saw my name was seventh in the draft to pick, I was just so excited. I knew [fellow captain] Angel Yin - a friend of mine - had got to know Sarina last week as well as we were all hanging out. I knew then if she was in front of me she was going to pick Sarina, so I was very happy that she wasn’t."

So, mixing competition with camaraderie.

"To be honest, I think that’s what makes the series quite cool," Cowan says. "You know there’s a lot at stake, you know you need to make birdies, but you have your teammates as well. So if you’re struggling they’ll help you out. And it might motivate you to push and push more. Yeah, it’s just a fun week really."

Updated: August 5th 2021, 5:38 AM