A number of leading golfers have added their names to next month’s Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Open (FBMLO), including Solheim Cup stars Georgia Hall and Mel Reid, and American Cheyenne Woods.
The event, in its second year, takes place at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi from November 1-4, with players competing for a US$550,000 (Dh2 million) purse. American Beth Allen returns to defend the crown she won 12 months ago.
Allen, whose victory in Abu Dhabi helped secure the Ladies European Tour (LET) Order of Merit title, was pushed close last year by Hall and Reid. The English pair finished second and tied-third respectively, with Allen eventually prevailing by three shots.
Since, Hall has continued her rise as one of European golf’s foremost players, recording six top-10 finishes on the LET this season and impressing at the Solheim Cup in August. That followed on from an excellent showing at the Women’s British Open the previous month, in which Hall, 21, came home tied-third.
“I’m looking forward to playing the course and playing some great golf,” Hall said ahead of her appearance in the capital. “I’d love to have a good result after a really strong finish in my first-ever FBMLO tournament last year. I know the girls think the course is absolutely lovely and as always there is a fantastic field. We can’t wait to get going.”
Long considered one of Europe’s top players, Reid has also enjoyed a fine 2017, winning the season-opener at the Oates Vic Open in Australia in February. The Englishwoman, 30, was another prominent member of Annika Sorenstam’s European Solheim Cup team this summer. Europe lost the match to the United States 16.5 to 11.5.
Hall and Reid will be joined at the FBMLO by cup teammates Florentyna Parker and Emily Kristine Pedersen, as well as vice-captain Catriona Matthew.
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The Scot, the 2009 Women’s British Open winner and a former LET player of the year, was given a playing role in Iowa at the last moment, when veteran Suzann Pettersen had to withdraw with a back injury. Undeterred, Matthew went on to take three points off the Americans, second only on the Europe side to Anna Nordqvist.
Matthew has since been named as captain for the 2019 Solheim Cup, although for now putting on a strong showing in Abu Dhabi forms her more immediate focus.
“I’ve had a great year so far,” she said. “I was vice-captain of Team Europe, which was followed by a last-minute playing position on the team, and then when I didn’t think it could get any better, I was honoured with the captaincy for the Solheim 2019 event.
"I’m really looking forward to topping off this great year in Abu Dhabi and hopefully this positivity will continue in the same vein at this year’s FBMLO.”
Elsewhere in the field, Woods will debut, although the 2014 Australia Ladies Masters champion is no stranger to the UAE. The American, whose uncle is Tiger Woods, has competed at the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters twice previously, in 2014 and 2016. Her best finish there was tied-10th.