Coronavirus: Inaugural Saudi Ladies International postponed
Second high-profile Middle East golf event impacted by the pandemic
The inaugural Aramco Saudi Ladies International, the first female professional golf tournament to be played in Saudi Arabia, has been postponed, becoming the latest sporting event impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement was made late on Friday in a joint statement by tournament promoters and owners Golf Saudi and the Ladies European Tour (LET).
A revised slot for the $1 million event (DH3.67m) at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, originally scheduled for March 19-22, has yet to been confirmed, with Golf Saudi CEO Majed Al Sorour saying “We will be looking to confirm a new date as soon as we possibly can".
Golf Saudi and the LET said it was with the “deepest regret that we confirm that the Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by Public Investment Fund ... has been postponed with immediate effect due to the implications of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. “Despite applying comprehensive health and safety measures, the tournament committee has decided the only course of action given the escalating severity of the situation is to postpone.”
The tournament marked the second high-profile Middle East golf event to be impacted by the outbreak after the Mena Tour announced earlier this month that it had postponed the second half of its schedule. The remaining six tournaments on the developmental circuit's 2020 calendar are to be played between September and December.
Al Sorour, who also acts as CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation, said: “Although we are understandably saddened to have to announce this postponement today, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all of our sponsors, our partners and the players for showing their commitment to the inaugural Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by Public Investment Fund.
“This event represents a landmark occasion for everyone in the Kingdom and for women’s sport, and we remain fully committed to allowing the best players in the world to compete here. In consultation with our partners, we will be looking to confirm a new date as soon as we possibly can.”
The LET reiterated its priority is to ensure players and stakeholders remain safe and that the decision was made following advice from the World Health Organisation.
Alexandra Armas, LET CEO, said: “There is no doubt that the last few weeks have been extremely challenging for sports and postponing next week’s tournament has not been an easy decision, but we fully appreciate the recent restrictions which have been introduced in respect of travel into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“Even though this was not our desired outcome, I wish to thank the promoter and event owner Golf Saudi for looking into every possible option to make this event happen. We were so impressed with their passion and efforts, and we will work closely with them to find a date in the future to deliver this historic event for our members.”
The event was due to welcome a number of renowned European players, including England's Georgia Hall, Wales’ Amy Boulden, Sweden’s Camilla Lennarth and Carly Booth of Scotland.
Golf has been impacted significantly in response to the coronavirus, with the PGA Tour cancelling the Players Championship on Friday and stopping play on the circuit until after the Valero Texas Open, which was slated to finish on April 5.
Later in the day, Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley confirmed next month’s Masters, set for April 9-12, would be postponed – for the first time since World War II. No new date has been given for the tournament, which typically serves as the season's first major.
Updated: March 14, 2020 11:38 AM