It is the collection of the world’s best women golfers and the paparazzi is on ground in full force.
In recent times, no golf competition has generated so much global interest as the $1 million Aramco Saudi Ladies International, which tees off today and the Saudi Ladies Team International, which will hold from November 17 to 19. Both championships have attracted the cream of women players, including Nigeria’s Georgia Oboh, who arrived in the kingdom on Sunday.
The upcoming ladies golf tournaments in Saudi Arabia are set to break even more ground this week – becoming the first international women-only sports events held within the Kingdom to be broadcast live across the country.
Due to restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), no spectators will be present on the course at the Ladies European Tour events in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), but fans will have a number of ways to witness the inaugural event through international broadcasters and a range of behind-the-scenes content from the tournament’s digital channels.
According to the organisers, there will be 14 different global broadcasters across MENA, Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australasia showcasing the tournament from Saudi Arabia’s premier championship course, Royal Greens Golf and Country Club.
The events, presented by the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, take women’s golf into another new territory and will see 108 players, including some of Europe’s elite players, compete for what will be the LET season’s biggest purse after only the British and Scottish Open.
The events will be Saudi Arabia’s third and fourth professional golf tournaments in less than two years that has welcomed the best players from across the globe. The country held the debut Saudi International in 2019, with Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell winning 2020’s hosting in January.
Together, the events mark the return of huge international sporting events to the Kingdom, something Saudi Arabia has looked to do more in recent years as it aims to inspire its next generation under the ambitions of Saudi Vision 2030.
Oboh arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Sunday to get ready for the Aramco Saudi Ladies International Golf Championships, the Inaugural event playing at the Royal greens Golf and Country Club at the Economic City and presented by Public Investment Fund.
The two events will start with the individual stroke play. The clear theme of the Inaugural events is “Ladies First” and highlights the achievement of ladies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The promotional activities have had to be halted due to Covid 19 restrictions but there is still a great sense of encouraging the ladies around the kingdom to get involved by offering free golf membership to the Saudi Arabian Ladies.
The event has attracted the creme of the top of Professional Lady Golfers from around the globe. There re 110 Lady Professionals in the field headlined by two top European players who also play on the LPGA, Georgia Hall and Charley Hull who are main players on the LPGA.
There is also history in the making for Maha Haddoui from Morocco, the first Arab women on the Ladies European Tour and Oboh being the first Nigerian also on the Ladies European Tour and in fact , the youngest professional golfer from Sub-Saharan Africa.
Looking ahead to a rewarding outing at the two events, Oboh said, “I give God all the Glory to be able to be here in Saudi Arabia to display my skills amongst some of the worlds’ best lady professionals. It is indeed a great honour and special thanks to the sponsors for inviting me to this prestigious tournament. I would also like to seize this opportunity to thank my family and my golfing family in Nigeria for making this trip possible, especially in these tough times.
They have rallied day and night to provide the funding and for this incredible trip.
“I am especially grateful to the golfing group known as “The Roaming Golfers Association” not only for their financial and moral support but also their commitment to Ladies golf in Nigeria. Members of Ikoyi Club 1938 and also the Ladies Golfing groups in Nigeria who have prayed and supported so solidly.
“I am humbled and feel blessed to be here whilst still appealing to Corporate Nigeria to come to my aid as regards a long term commitment. The next season starts very soon in January and I am so looking forward to representing Nigeria at the Olympic games Tokyo 2020 and so I am still eager to align with a corporate partner.”
Golf is often seen as a sports for the elite and in Nigeria and the absence of public golf courses creates a scarcity in training facilities which is often expensive for a professional player. Georgia believes initiatives such as “Ladies First” in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will go a long way in encouraging new entrants whilst driving costs down for new entrants into the game.
She is currently working with an African organisation to create opportunities for the millions of African youth to enable access to the game which is now firmly an Olympic Sport. We will be excitedly waiting for that change and the democratisation of the great game here in Nigeria and Africa.