Players may be forced to wear trousers in Saudi Arabia’s first female event
Players on the Ladies European Tour have been warned they may have to play in trousers in Saudi Arabia’s first female professional tournament – in order to obey the kingdom’s dress regulations.
The ground-breaking event will be held at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club near Jeddah next March, with a prize of $1 million (£760,000), which will be the second-biggest for a non-major on the circuit.
But while the announcement was made yesterday with much fanfare, it is understood that concern was raised when players were told of the possible restrictions to their usual uniform, which is overwhelmingly of skirts or shorts. There are no stringent dress regulations on the LET, or indeed, on any of the female tours.
“It did not go down well, but the feeling was that it was a negative that, perhaps, maybe worth it for a such a high-money tournament on a tour that’s been struggling,” a source told Telegraph Sport. The LET has been beset by problems over the past few seasons, with sponsors leaving and the schedule being vastly reduced.
The tournament follows this year’s inaugural European Tour event, the Saudi International, which was hosted at the same venue. Brooks Koepka, the world No 1, and fellow major champions Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Shane Lowry, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson have already confirmed their participation for next February’s renewal. Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods have both turned down appearance fees of up to $4 million to play.
It is understood that there will not be any appearance fees paid for the women’s event, only intensifying the belief that the tournament is being staged as a promotional tool in the “sports washing” of the country. Anthony Joshua’s boxing world title victory over Andy Ruiz was hosted there last week.
“I’m incredibly excited by this announcement and it is an honour for the Tour to be part of history in bringing the first-ever professional women’s golf event to Saudi Arabia,” Alexandra Armas, the LET chief executive, said. “Adding Saudi Arabia to our schedule for 2020 is an exciting prospect … and having seen the quality of the event staging for Saudi International, I am sure this will be a fantastic experience for our players.”
Yasir Al Rumayyan, the chairman of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi, said: “I hope the tournament will inspire many women to take up the great game of golf and awaken their interest in this wonderful sport.”
• Culled from telegraph.co.uk.