By Kent Gray
Tournament-starved Ladies European Tour players have led a chorus of approval as more details of Jordan’s new mixed-gender professional event were released on Tuesday.
As Golf Digest Middle East exclusively revealed in April, players from the LET will pit themselves against Challenge Tour players and ex-European Tour stars now playing the Staysure Tour (formerly European Seniors) in a 54-hole, individual strokeplay event at Ayla Golf Club, Jordan’s first 18-hole grass course in the Red Sea port city of Aqaba, early next year.
The Jordan Mixed Masters, presented by Ayla, will be played from April 4-6 with a field of 123 players – 40 each from the LET, Challenge and Staysure Tours plus one amateur from each demographic.
Members from the three tours will tee off from different yardages but will compete in a single competition. The three-day event will see the field cut to 60 for the third and final round competing for the yet-to-confirmed winners cheque. The leading players from the other two tours will also receive a “special accolade”.
Reigning LET No.1 Georgia Hall welcomed the development after reaching the quarterfinals of the European Tour’s GolfSixes which included female professionals for the first time in England last month.
“GolfSixes was such a successful event and it was so nice to connect with so many fans. The format was popular with everyone and it was great to see so many women and juniors there,’ Hall said. “The Jordan Mixed Masters, presented by Ayla, is the next step to show that golf is a game for all. The women are looking forward to joining together to make this another fantastic week and the future is looking good with more events like this on the calendar.”
LET players have been starved of playing opportunities in recent seasons with just six events so far this season; the last of them in April.
Felicity Johnson, a prominent name on recent Omega Dubai Ladies Classic leaderboards, echoed Hall’s sentiments on social media.
👏👏👏 great vision from all parties https://t.co/4zEJ6ZJOcd
— Felicity Johnson (@FlicJohnsonGolf) June 26, 2018
Mark Lichtenhein, Chairman, Ladies European Tour, said: “The popularity of recent collaborative events such as the Oates Vic Open, Lalla Meryem Cup and GolfSixes have demonstrated that there is a huge public appetite to see men and women playing alongside each other in different formats.
“This unique tournament will be the first of its kind, where men and women will compete individually, for the same trophy. The event will give our players a tremendous opportunity to showcase their talents in a level playing field for both genders.”
The announcement of the event builds on the success of the European Tour’s innovative GolfSixes tournament, a 16-team, six-hole event, which included some of Europe’s top female stars and a mixed pairing of Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn and his Solheim Cup counterpart Catriona Matthew.
Male and female players will also tee it up in August in the new European Golf Team Championships, part of the Glasgow 2018 European Championships, which will include a mixed foursome strokeplay event.
They said it…
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour
“The Jordan Mixed Masters, presented by Ayla is a fantastic development for the Staysure Tour, the Challenge Tour and the Ladies European Tour. This unique event goes a step further, bringing together the stars of three Tours for a truly innovative tournament. There seems to be an appetite in golf for mixed events right now, and this is another opportunity to deliver another entertaining yet credible format. The European Tour is leading the transformation of global golf and I commend Ayla’s vision and their determination to spearhead the concept of hosting the three Tours.”
Chris White, Director of Operations at Ayla
“Golf is one of the only sports whereby competitors, regardless of age or gender, can compete fairly together. To see our vision come to life and have the support and collaboration of all three Tours gives us great confidence that our event will be recognised as unique in the world of golf and showcase not only the beauty of Ayla, but the great nation of Jordan.”
Alain de Soultrait, Director, European Challenge Tour
“The introduction of a tournament involving the Challenge Tour, Staysure Tour and the Ladies European Tour is a landmark moment for all three tours, and playing all together will be great.”
David MacLaren, Head of the Staysure Tour
“Following on from the spectacular success of Dame Laura Davies’ trailblazing appearance at the Shipco Masters earlier this month, we are absolutely thrilled to be part of a unique tournament that will bring together players from different parts of the golfing spectrum, but who share in common great achievements within their individual Tours.”
Phil Golding, a four-time Staysure Tour winner and two-time victor on the Challenge Tour
“This is such a unique tournament. It’s fantastic that we have brought the three Tours together and it’s an event in a new country for us, which is another bonus. It’s great that we’re doing things a little bit different, and this is another step after playing on a nine-hole golf course in Sharjah over the last two seasons and also having Dame Laura play with us in Denmark. I’m really looking forward to it.”