The Ladies European Tour has broken new ground by staging the first women’s professional golf tournaments in Abu Dhabi and Doha over the last month and as the tour gears up for the season-ending climax in Dubai, the Middle Eastern swing is proving a big hit.
The final straight is bringing increasing media interest in the tour’s sporting heroines, many of whom have grown a large profile since the Olympic Games in Rio.
With three tournaments in the Middle East this year, the Ladies European Tour golfers are playing for a total of 1.5 million euros in the region as part of the organisation’s highest ever annual purse topping 14 million euros - and the players are loving it.
At the inaugural Qatar Ladies Open, the halfway co-leader Lydia Hall from Wales, said: “It’s amazing to have this new Middle East swing and to come to two new cities in Abu Dhabi and Doha and at two fantastic new venues, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and Doha Golf Club. It’s a real honour to have played in the first female professional golf event in both capitals. I love being in this region and you always get a great feeling in these vibrant cities with so much to see and do.”
Scotland’s Kylie Walker, a two-time winner on the LET, echoed those sentiments when she said: “To finish in the Middle East like this is great and this event is awesome this week. It’s our first time here and they’ve put on a great show for us. They are really looking after us well so I’m just enjoying it.”
Fellow Scot Pamela Pretswell said:
“Doha Golf Club is probably one of my favourite courses on tour and we’re getting looked after so well. We’re lucky to be here. It’s massive for golf here and hopefully we will get some people out supporting on the last day and get families and new people to see women playing golf.”
On top of the exposure that the tournaments bring to the prime tourism locations, the players hope to encourage more women and children to try a healthy new Olympic sport.
Anne-Lise Caudal, a two-time tournament winner from France, said: “It’s great to have these female professional golf tournaments here because it will open minds and show that we are performing at a very high level, whilst also bringing glamour to the golf course.”
Fellow Frenchwoman Alexandra Vilatte Farret commented: “It’s really cool to play here because people enjoy supporting women’s golf and it’s important to show how women can play golf as well as the men.”
Annabel Dimmock from England added:
“We bring glamour to the game and local people might be pleasantly surprised to see how well we can play and hit the ball. To get more females playing golf here would be fantastic and hopefully we can inspire people to try a new sport.”
Ladies European Tour CEO Ivan Khodabakhsh said: “New events such as the Qatar Ladies Open and Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open will create a legacy that will help to inspire and develop world class sporting icons. By bringing a fresh Olympic sport to new cities in the Middle East, we intend to ignite interest in the game and create a lasting legacy for the region.”
Following the Qatar Ladies Open, which concludes on Saturday, 26th November at Doha Golf Club, the Tour will move to Japan for The Queens presented by Kowa, which is a team match play tournament, before returning to Arabia for the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters at Emirates Golf Club from December 7-10.
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