The Aramco Saudi Ladies International has confirmed Lydia Ko, the World No. 1 and 2021 champion, will lead a world-class field at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club from February 16-19.

The ground-breaking event, the first of the Ladies European Tour season, has already announced a massive prize purse boost to $5million that will match the men’s PIF Saudi International.

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The New Zealander was the youngest player to be ranked No. 1 in golf when she reached the top of golf’s standings in 2017 — at just 17 years old. She returned to the top of the pile last month, eclipsing Nelly Korda as the No. 1 player in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. This is the third time Ko, who notched three LPGA Tour victories and nine other top-five finishes in 2022, has been the best player on the planet.

“I remember my time at the Aramco Saudi Ladies International very fondly, having won the title here a few years back,” Ko said. “I’m looking forward to returning to Saudi Arabia to build on my 2022.

“I’m thrilled to see golf is moving in the direction towards equal prize money — it is something I believe all the ladies on tour have been striving hard for. I’m grateful to those backing the women’s game who have believed in us and are committed to taking the sport to the next level. We’re moving in the right direction, and I believe it’s only going to get much better from here for women’s golf.”

The Aramco Saudi Ladies International will occupy the third spot on the LET calendar. This will be the Tour’s first of two visits to the Kingdom in 2023, with the ever-popular Aramco Team Series event set to take place later this year.

With the event’s significant prize money increase to $5million, coupled with the Aramco Team Series’ five US1million events to take place again in 2023, this year will be yet another record-breaking season for the Tour, where players will all be vying for a slice of LET’s largest ever prize money pool.

Majed Al Sorour, the Deputy Chairman and CEO of Golf Saudi, said: “We are thrilled to Lydia, the world’s best golfer, join us to compete in the Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by PIF. We look forward to welcoming them once again to be a part of our iconic event at our world-renowned Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in the Kingdom.

“We aspire to continually elevate the game of golf locally and globally to inspire homegrown golfers in Saudi Arabia. The increased prize purse for the upcoming Saudi Ladies International reflects the commitment of Golf Saudi, Aramco, and all the sponsors and partners of the tournament, to advance women’s golf while having a direct impact on the game on the ground here in Saudi Arabia.”