Saudi Arabia will for the first time host a professional women’s golf event, with confirmation on Thursday that the Ladies European Tour will visit the kingdom next year.
The new tournament, yet to be given a title, will be held at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City, near Jeddah, from March 19-22. It carries a prize fund of $1 million (Dh3.67m) to be contested by a field of 108 players.
Fully sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour (LET), the event will be staged in collaboration with Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation. Organisers say the tournament will be broadcast domestically and to more than 55 countries worldwide, with the aim to inspire a new generation of golfers in the kingdom.
“We are delighted to be creating history by hosting the inaugural ladies professional tournament in March,” said Yasir Al Rumayyan, chairman of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi. “I hope the tournament will inspire many women to take up the great game of golf and awaken their interest in this wonderful sport.
"We warmly welcome all the players to the Kingdom and wish everyone a rewarding experience in our magical country.”
The tournament follows this year’s inaugural European Tour event, the Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers, which was hosted at the same venue.
World No 1 Brooks Koepka and fellow major champions Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Shane Lowry, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson have already confirmed their participation next year's tournament, from January 30-February 2.
Of the new addition to the LET calendar, tour CEO Alexandra Armas said: “I am incredibly excited by this announcement and it is an honour for the tour to be part of history in bringing the first-ever professional women’s golf event to Saudi Arabia.
“Confirmation of adding Saudi Arabia to our schedule for 2020 is an exciting prospect for everyone at the Ladies European Tour and, having seen the quality of the event staging for the Saudi International, I am sure this will be a fantastic experience for our players.”
Golf Saudi announced also that it would collaborate with several LET stars to promote Saudi golf and Saudi golf tourism internationally. Carly Booth, Amy Boulden, Rachel Drummond, Camilla Lennarth and Isabella Deilert will wear the Golf Saudi logo as programme ambassadors.
“I’m looking forward to being part of history with the other ladies on the tour and of course to competing over the Royal Greens course,” Booth said. “I have visited Saudi Arabia on a number of occasions and been lucky enough to spend some time teaching local women and girls how to play.
"They have been so enthusiastic and I am sure that seeing professional golfers compete in their country will inspire them to take up the game and strive for their dreams.”