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Ladies’ European Tour adds two events in Saudi Arabia


A general view of the par five 18th hole during the third round of the Saudi International at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club on February 02, 2019 in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

The Ladies’ European Tour announced a pair of tournaments in Saudi Arabia to take place in November, which will mark the first female professional golf events in the country.

The Aramco Saudi Ladies’ International will feature a field of 108 LET golfers competing for a $1 million purse. While the tournament was postponed from its original March date because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s now back on the books for Nov. 12-15 at Royal Greens Golf Club, which has also hosted the European Tour’s Saudi International each of the last two years.

The LET will return to action on the same course days later for the Saudi Ladies’ Team International, slated for Nov. 17-19. This event will feature 36 teams of four players competing for both individual and team prizes totaling $500,000, with teams “selected via a draft-style process, taking place the week before the tournament, giving team captains the power to build a team of their choice.”

Saudi Arabia has been criticized for its human rights record and remains one of the most repressive countries in the world in terms of women’s rights, only recently ending policies of gender segregation in restaurants and allowing women to drive. Male players have previously been criticized for their participation in the European Tour’s Saudi event, which was won last year by Dustin Johnson and earlier this year by Graeme McDowell.

Earlier this year, LET player Meghan MacLaren announced she would not play in the women’s Saudi event over concerns of “sportswashing” the country’s questionable rights record.

“I’ve decided not to play based on what I think sport is being used to do in Saudi Arabia,” MacLaren told The Telegraph in January before the tournament was postponed. “It’s far more complicated than any one individual, so it’s a personal decision and not something I would push onto anyone else. But based on the research of organizations like Amnesty International, I couldn’t be comfortable being part of that process.”