Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Moriya (left) and Ariya Jutanugarn celebrate after winning the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational at Midland Country Club in July.
By Kent Gray
The Jutanugarn sisters, Ariya and Moriya, will be joined by another high-flying Thai prodigy, Atthaya Thitikul, as the headline acts at the 15th Dubai Moonlight Classic later this month.
Legendary Dame Laura Davies, the now 57-year-old four-time major champion, and two-time Solheim Cup-winning captain Catriona Matthew, 52, were the other big names confirmed on Monday for the Oct. 27-29 Ladies European Tour Pro-Am to be played on The Faldo course at Emirates Golf Club.
After an 11-year association with Omega, the UAE’s only professional ladies event also has a new tournament partner with the €260,000 Dubai Moonlight Classic now “presented by EGA”. Emirates Global Aluminium is a long-time supporter of the Dubai Classics which are owned and organised by Falcon and Associates.
Ariya Jutanugarn, 25, is a former world No.1 and became the first golfer, male or female, from Thailand to win a major when she captured the 2016 Women’s British Open. She has since won the 2018 U.S. Open among her 12 LPGA Tour victories.
Moriya, 27, was LPGA Tour rookie-of-the-year in 2013 and has gone on to claim two titles on the world’s richest female tour, the most recent of which, the Dow Great Lakes Bay (teams) Invitational, was emotionally shared with her younger sister in July.
Thitikul is famous for becoming the youngest golfer ever to win a professional golf event when she won the LET’s Thailand Championship as an amateur on July 9, 2017, aged just 14 years, 4 months and 19 days.
Now 18, Thitikul’s résumé boasts four LET wins and she is the current leader of the circuit’s season-long Race to Costa del Sol courtesy of victories in the Czech Ladies Open and Swiss Ladies Open and eight other top 10s in her 15 starts this season.
Thitikul is rated 28th in the latest Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, five places behind Ariya Jutanugarn and six spots ahead of 34th-ranked Moriya.
Davies, a seven-time LET Order of Merit winner and 20-time LPGA event champion, continues to compete at the highest level. She is 484th in the Rolex Rankings and finished 66th in both the Scottish and Women’s British Opens earlier this year. Matthew, meanwhile, is the first European captain to mastermind back-to-back Solheim Cup wins after orchestrating a thrilling 15-13 triumph at the Inverness Club in Ohio last month. She is 577th in the Rolex Rankings and has won six LET titles in a glittering career.
After Covid-19 safety precautions ensured the 2020 Dubai Moonlight Classic was played behind closed doors in a bio-secure bubble, the 2021 tournament will return with fans. However, there is a small tweak to the format with the Pro-Am portion of the event now limited to 18 holes after the amateurs contested the opening 36-holes last year.
“In addition to free entry for all, a collaboration with Truckers UAE is set to provide spectators with a variety of culinary delights from the city’s vibrant local F&B scene, while golf taster sessions run by the Peter Cowen Academy will be available for all age groups and abilities, providing family fun under the floodlights,” Falcon and Associates said in a media statement.
They said it…
“It is always a pleasure to return to Dubai; the players love to come here and tackle the Faldo. The weather and conditions are perfect for golf, and the atmosphere is always excellent. Playing under floodlights is something unique and it gives the event an attractive dimension for new fans.”
“Dubai has always been a favourite destination for women’s golf and the city is a long-term supporter of the Ladies European Tour. Once again the strong field and the tournament will inspire more interest in the game with female audience – it would be great to see more young Arab girls playing the sport.”
Simon Corkill, Executive Tournament Director
“The Dubai Moonlight Classic is one of the most highly anticipated, inclusive events on Dubai’s social and sporting schedule. We look forward to welcoming fans on Thursday and Friday to a celebration of world-class sport, food, and entertainment set against the stunning Dubai Marina backdrop.”