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The Gulf Club

Olivia Jackson: Aramco Series, Bangkok and mixed events point to the future of golf for all boys and girls

Olivia Jackson. Matt Smith

By Matt Smith
The Aramco Team Series is back for 2022 – along with a new format, a new location, bigger purses and five events on the Ladies European Tour, with Bangkok up first.

The ATS introduced four $1million tournaments to the LET last year, with some of the biggest names in golf contending in both a team and individual format, and attracting millions of new viewers around the globe.

The Series stopped in London, Sotogrande in southern Spain, New York and Jeddah, inviting more than 30 team captains at each spot to make an NFL-style draft pick for their first teammate, before being given another randomly selected Tour pro, then being assigned a local amateur player to complete their fourball.

The ground-breaking event has deservedly given the ladies’ game more exposure — and Olivia Jackson, the Emirates Golf Club pro who just helped the Pros reclaim the Dubai Golf Trophy from the Ams after six years on Monday, becoming the first-ever female to contend in the Ryder Cup-style event, was very animated about getting the females on the main page.

“Definitely, the Aramco Series is great as it gives us more exposure,” Jackson told Golf Digest Middle East. “We go into these new, innovative competitions to push the game forward and help inspire the next batch of hopefuls. Sometimes they are put in the shade as the male game is on TV all the time, but these events show we can compete and entertain just as well, if not more so. We also have so many mixed events these days to show we really can mix it with the boys, just like the Dubai Golf Trophy, where I qualified on merit. The LET and Asian Tour just had two recent mixed events with male and female players going for the same trophy and I see that as the way forward to inspire the next generation of kids, both girls and boys.”

For 2022, the ATS returns, this time starting in Thailand as the series expands to five events.

Being played at the Thai Country Club May 12-14, the Aramco Team Series Bangkok will add another $1million to the season prize-fund, and will tee-off the ATS’ second year on the LET calendar.

AT A GLANCE: ARAMCO TEAM SERIES

A new format set to speed up play

Last year saw the ATS become the first team event series of its kind on any professional tour with a new format that uniquely combines individual and team format. This year will see the revised format with the team event that includes 26 teams of four (3 professionals and an amateur) taking place over the first two days only with the best two scores per hole counting with a $500,000 prize fund up for grabs. Running concurrently will be an individual strokeplay event with the third and final round for individuals making the cut in a last-day shootout and another separate $500,000 on offer.

Local talent and international stars

This week sees a trio of Thailand’s top golfing superstars in Bangkok with international star Patty Tavatanakit, world No 14, former world No. 1 and two-time major winner Ariya Jutanugarn and sister Moriya are some of the local headliners. They are joined by local 18-year-old talent Chanoknan ‘April’ Angurasaranee, the leading female player at the recent Trust Golf Asian Mixed Cup at Siam Country Club and Chonlada Chatanun. England’s Charley Hull and breakout US star Kelly Whaley are the big overseas stars alongside a host of LET leading lights. Last year’s Aramco Team Series saw stars such as Georgia Hall, Nelly Korda, Anna Nordqvist, Danielle Kang, Alison Lee and Lexi Thompson all compete.

Elevated events to bigger global audiences

‘From the quality of the courses to the build, facilities and the hospitality the Aramco Team Series is elevating the standards across the board,” said Alex Armas, LET, CEO. “To many of our members, these events feel like majors — and they look forward to playing in them almost as much.”

This year’s broadcast distribution will see the ATS shown in a record 117 territories to an estimated reach of 330 million households.

Partnerships

Aramco’s continued partnership for 2022 makes it the biggest backer in women’s golf. The Aramco Team Series will support up and coming women’s golfers who need extra support to make it to the next level with partnerships with local charities and golfing associations planned at every stop to make a difference.

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