The European Tour will continue to expand the boundaries of global golf next year when it brings the professional game to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the first time.
His Royal Majesty, Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia used his visit to London this week to confirm the full-field event that will play a key part in the European Tour’s early-season Desert Swing in 2019.
The tournament, the first in a three-year partnership, will take place from January 31 to February 3, 2019, and will be staged at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC). Designed by London-based European Golf Design, the course plays to a par of 72 and stretches along the Red Sea coastline.
The venue, which aside from the Championship golf course boasts a state-of-the-art clubhouse, world class practice facilities and other stunning residential and recreational facilities, has already been used as a training base for the Saudi national golf team.
The Royal Greens Golf and Country Club focuses on families, community, charity and junior development as the Kingdom looks to develop its golfing pedigree. It will also be one of the key ingredients in delivering Saudi Arabia’s much lauded ‘Vision 2030’ – the plan to showcase the Kingdom’s desire to expand its business, leisure and tourism industries.
HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, Deputy Chairman of the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority, said: “This landmark agreement is a defining moment in the development of professional sport in the Kingdom and a clear signal that the country is ready to compete at the very highest level. As we seek to increase the number of young Saudis participating in regular exercise as part of our National Transformation Plan, events such as this help encourage people to build sport into their lives and their careers.”
HE Mr Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan, President of the Saudi Arabian Golf Federation, said: “We are delighted to be bringing professional golf to Saudi Arabia in a way that showcases the best players in the world. I hope that this event will inspire more Saudis to take up the game and show that, as a nation, we can host sporting events of this calibre.”
Mr Fahd Al-Rasheed, Managing Director and Group CEO of Emaar the Economic City, the master developer of KAEC, said: “We are proud that the award-winning Royal Greens Golf and Country Club is part of this agreement. The Club is designed to be not only a world-class venue but also a place where more Saudi families can take up the game of golf and enjoy an unparalleled leisure experience.”
Keith Pelley, CEO of the European Tour, said: “We are very excited to be talking the first steps toward bringing professional golf to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the first time and I must thank His Royal Majesty, Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for his vision in making this happen.
“I also applaud the Saudi Arabia General Sports Authority, the Saudi Arabian Golf Federation and everyone at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club for their commitment and support. We are proud to be recognised as golf’s global Tour with tournaments in 30 countries this year alone and we are very much looking forward to adding Saudi Arabia to that list in 2019.
“We broadcast live coverage of our tournaments to more than 150 countries every week and we look forward to showcasing Saudi Arabia as part of that arrangement. I also hope this partnership will raise the profile of the game in the Kingdom and that we will see more Saudi players competing at the international level in the future.”
The formal announcement of the tournament, including details of the official event title and prize money, will be made in Saudi Arabia in May.