By Kent Gray
The European Tour is taking its early season Desert Swing to the shores of the Red Sea for the first time after unveiling a new event in Saudi Arabia from 2019.
Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) will host the event, further details of which will be released in May.
However, the dates for the inaugural “full field” event have been unveiled – Jan. 31-Feb. 3 – meaning it will follow the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and Omega Dubai Desert Classic to extend the early season desert swing back to three back-to-back-to-back events.
His Royal Majesty, Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, used his visit to London this week to confirm the three-year deal with the European Tour.
Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, a par 72 layout stretching along the Red Sea coastline, is a family-focused facility and is used by the Saudi national team for training. The event is part of Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’ strategy – a plan to showcase the Kingdom’s desire to expand its business, leisure and tourism industries beyond the reliance on oil and gas.
“We are very excited to be talking the first steps toward bringing professional golf to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the first time and I must thank His Royal Majesty, Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for his vision in making this happen,” said European Tour CEO Keith Pelley.
“We broadcast live coverage of our tournaments to more than 150 countries every week and we look forward to showcasing Saudi Arabia as part of that arrangement. I also hope this partnership will raise the profile of the game in the Kingdom and that we will see more Saudi players competing at the international level in the future.”
The formal announcement of the tournament, including details of the official event title and prize money, will be made in Saudi Arabia in May.
The announcement further enhances the Middle East’s reputation as the hotbed of the ‘European’ Golf. The Saudi event is now the region’s sixth European Tour tour event (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Saudi, Oman, Qatar, DP World Tour Championship) and joins a Challenge Tour event in Ras Al Khaimah, Seniors event in Sharjah as well as Ladies European Tour stops in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.