There will be no golf on the European Tour this week as it heads for next week's second World Golf Championship event of the year, the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship at the Austin Country Club in Austin, Texas.
But this gap may be closed next year when, for the first time ever, Saudi Arabia helps expand the global boundaries of the Tour by joining an early-season desert swing that already includes Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Oman and Qatar.
Europeantour.com has reported that 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 that the full-field event would be launched in 2019.
The tournament, which has yet to be named, 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 championship course plays to a par of 72 and stretches along the Red Sea coastline.
The venue, which also boasts a state-of-the-art clubhouse, world-class practice facilities and up-market residential and recreational facilities, has already been used as a training base for the Saudi national golf team.
Local officials say the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club focuses on families, community, charity and junior development as the Kingdom looks to build-up and grow its fund of golfing talent
This is being seen as one of the key ingredients in delivering Saudi Arabia’s much-lauded ‘Vision 2030’ and their 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, says: “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, added: “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.”
Keith Pelley, CEO of the European Tour, said: “We are very excited to be taking the first steps toward bringing professional golf to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 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.”
More details of the event, its title and its prize money, will be announced in Saudi Arabia in May.
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