Ladies European Tour announce event in Saudi Arabia

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The Ladies European Tour have announced the addition of the first ever women's golf event in Saudi Arabia to their 2020 schedule, with a prize fund of $1million

The Ladies European Tour have announced that they are adding a new tournament in Saudi Arabia to their schedule in 2020 - marking the first time a female golf event has been held in the country.

Staged in collaboration with Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation, the 72-hole tournament will be held at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club from 19-22 March 2020.

It boasts a prize fund of $1 million, with a field of 108 players, and forms part of The Kingdom's vision to 'increase golf participation significantly in the years to come'.

The new event comes on the heels of a new joint venture announced last month with the LPGA Tour, where players voted in favour of a partnership which promises increases in both financial and playing opportunities for women. 

"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," said Ladies European Tour CEO Alexandra Armas. 

"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."

The tournament itself follows in the footsteps of the divisive Saudi International on the men's European Tour, which held its inaugural staging last year.

The controversy lies within Saudi Arabia's human rights record, described earlier this year as 'shameful' by Amnesty International - particularly in regard to women - which led to the men being questioned whether accepting money, and indeed playing in an event, was more important than morality.

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods have both turned down appearance fee money to play in the January event next year, but other big names such as defending champion Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Henrik Stenson will all be there. 

As a result, the announcement of a Ladies European Tour was a somewhat surprising one, particularly after the negative response multiple LET winner Carly Booth received earlier this year for announcing a partnership with Golf Saudi.

However, in addition to the tournament, it was announced today that Booth, along with the UK's Amy Boulden and Rachel Drummond, and Swedish pair Camilla Lennarth and Isabella Deilert, will each wear the Golf Saudi logo as ambassadors for Golf Saudi in a bid to 'promote golf to domestic audiences and to enhance the visibility of Saudi’s golf development programme and its golf tourism offer internationally'

“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," said Booth.

"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."

Commenting upon hosting the event for the first time and setting new precedents within the sport, His Excellency Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Chairman of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi, said: “We are delighted to be creating history by hosting the inaugural ladies professional tournament in March. 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 full 2020 Ladies European Tour schedule has still to be announced.