History will be made at February’s Ladies European Tour (LET) Aramco Saudi Ladies International, where a world-class field will gather to compete for a purse of $5 million — up from $1 million.
That alone is reason to sit up and take notice as Golf Saudi and Aramco continue their mission to promote the game and grow awareness and participation in female and youth communities across Saudi Arabia and the world.
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Aramco Saudi Ladies International announces $5m purse
Moreover, the golfers will now compete for equal prize money to the men in the PIF Saudi International on the Asian Tour and the purse will be the third largest on the LET, offering a cheque for $750,000 to the tournament champion.
The increased prize money will start when the tournament takes place for the fourth consecutive year at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City from February 16-19 as part of a renewed agreement between the Ladies European Tour and Golf Saudi.
While we await the full 120-strong line-up to be announced, many golfers have already confirmed to Golf Digest Middle East that they will be there at KAEC for the fourth edition of the tournament, including LPGA star Charley Hull and Aramco Team Series 2022 winners Bronte Law and Chiara Noja.
Another one of those who is certainly planning to make the trip back to Jeddah is defending champion Georgia Hall.
“I have heard nothing but positive things from the other players,” the English star said. “I think they are all excited to play in the event in February, me included. It’s such a great statement. I think it will encourage other companies, hopefully, to also raise the bar for future events.”
Hall is hopeful that the Saudi Ladies International is an example other tournaments will now follow, creating a domino effect, with more and more events showing parity in their purses.
“[We’re] really thankful to Golf Saudi, Majed [Al Sorour, CEO and Deputy Chairman] and Yasir [Al Rumayyan, Chairman] for supporting this event. It’s gone from strength-to-strength every year that I’ve been a part of it. The players are really grateful to them and we look forward to playing in February. And hopefully, slowly, more and more tournaments like this will also offer equal prize funds.”
The world No. 26 cantered to a five-stroke victory in the 2022 Saudi Ladies International, and despite the prize hike, she is solely focused of retaining the silverware.
“Personally, I can’t wait to get back and defend my title,” she said.
Hull, the Aramco Team Series — New York 2021 champion, is all for the positive changes in the women’s game. “It is great,” she told Golf Digest Middle East. “It is good for the game, good for the tour and good for women in sport. A $5 million purse and equal pay — fair play
Hull is fond of the Royal Greens course that laps the Red Sea and gives the players a respite in the afternoons with a cooling breeze.
“I love playing there,” she added. “It is a nice, peaceful course, which I like to help me clear my head. Those holes out by the water are class. The Saudi Ladies International will fit nicely into my calendar for 2023, so hopefully I can get the year off to a good start — and now we have that added prize-money carrot!”
Noja, who defeated Hull in a dramatic playoff to claim the 2022 ATS finale on the same Royal Greens course in November, has also booked the tournament in on her schedule — as long as it does not interfere with the 16-year-old’s school studies in Dubai.
“Oh yes, I will be there!” she said with a glimmer in her eye. “I think it falls outside my GCSEs, so I will be there. It is awesome. Really, really cool. Golf Saudi has already given us a platform to play on, so to match the prize fund for the first time in history is amazing.”
LET CEO Alexandra Armas believes this is only the beginning for ladies golf.
“This is a landmark moment for our Tour, and for women’s sport globally,” she said. “It will allow the tournament to grow in every way, from its purpose and impact on social change to the delivery of exceptional experiences for fans and for players at the event and in the community. This is a message to all young women that golf is for them, and they can pursue the sport as a passion and as a career.”
Golf in the Kingdom has undergone monumental growth since the inaugural Saudi Ladies International in 2020, with thousands of Saudi females of all ages getting into the sport.
“We are delighted to offer the women equal prize money to the men from 2023 as part of our ambitious plans to attract the world’s best players and inspire home grown talents,” Golf Saudi Deputy Chairman and CEO Majed Al Sorour said. “It’s hugely exciting to unveil a five-fold increase in the prize fund and this only highlights our desire to help to raise the profile of women’s golf further and give the players the rewards that they deserve. Golf Saudi is not only committed to providing life-changing prize funds for female golfers but also continuing to encourage females to get involved in the game of golf throughout the Kingdom and beyond.”
Now that is growing the game.