It was announced on 28 September that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will host two Ladies European Tour tournaments.
These will be the country’s first female professional golf events, moved from March to November this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. These milestones will feature a $1.5-million prize fund. What’s more, a new format pairing professional and amateur players is also in the offing.
Groundbreaking Saudi Arabia events
Held over the course of a week at Royal Greens Golf Club on the Red Sea coast near Jeddah, the tournaments will be organised within a safe bio-secure environment in order to limit Covid-19 threats. This means that there will be no spectators present.
The first event, the Inaugural Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by Public Investment Fund, will take place from 12-15 November it is expected to feature over a hundred LET golfers. A few days later, from 17-19 November, the ladies will return to the course for the Saudi Ladies Team International, expected to feature 36 teams of four players competing for team and individual prizes. The first event has a prize fund of a $1 million while the second totals half of that.
With details of the second event still to be announced, it is expected that a draft-style process will be used to select the teams. The draft will take place the week before the event, which will empower the captains of all teams to construct their own teams.
Alexandra Armas, CEO of the Ladies European Tour, told Reuters in December last year:
‘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.’
She added: ‘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.’
However, it is important to note that some players such as Meghan MacLaren have said they will not be participating in the events, citing the kingdom’s questionable human-rights record.
Back in January, MacLaren said: ‘It’s far more complicated than any one individual, so it’s a personal decision and not something I would push on to anyone else. But based on the research of organisations like Amnesty International, I couldn’t be comfortable being part of that process.’
.@georgiahall96 ? “The prospect of getting out somewhere new & competing in not just one but two tournaments in the space of a week is incredibly exciting for the players & shows incredible backing for the women’s game.”#SaudiLadiesIntl #SaudiLadiesTeamIntl @SaudiLadiesIntl pic.twitter.com/9QlYohclOg
— Ladies European Tour (@LETgolf) October 7, 2020
However, these events will still attract some of the best players in the world as well as feature the above-discussed new format. What is more, even though there will be no spectators present, the events will be broadcast in over 55 countries worldwide to reach more than 340 million households across the globe.
Players such as Amy Boulden of Wales, who recently won the Swiss Open, Georgia Hall, winner of the Solheim Cup, Charley Hull, famous for winning the Women’s Open Championship in 2018, and many other significant names are all gathering in Saudi Arabia.
Considering their skills, this tournament will attract golf betting fans as well. It will be really interesting to predict who manages to get into the top five or 10 players.
Will Amy Boulden succeed again? This remains to be seen. Bookies are awaiting bettors to predict the winners, place their top 10s or guess if there will be hole-in-one scores, which, legalbetting.com explains, is much more common than most fans think.
2020 so far and other upcoming events
So far, the 2020 Ladies European Tour schedule has heavily been affected by the coronavirus outbreak with many tournaments being cancelled or postponed. Only two events in Australia and
one in South Africa were held before the entire world shut down, including various sports events as well.
The Tour started again in August when the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the AIG Women&’s Open were held in Scotland as well as the Tipsport Czech Ladies Open in the Czech Republic. The VP Bank Swiss Ladies Open and the Lacoste Ladies Open De France were the two events held in September.
Before the Saudi Arabia events, the Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic tees off from 4-6 November with a prize fund of €260,000. The last event of the season will be held from 26-29 November in Spain.
After Covid-19 wreaked havoc on most sports seasons, it’s good to see that more and more events are coming back to allow passionate and casual fans to enjoy their favourite pastime.