Jeon In-ji ( pictured ) decided to participate in the European Women’s Tour (LET) Aramco Saudi Ladies International, which will be held in Saudi Arabia next month.
On the 31st, the organizing committee announced the list of players including 13 major winners, including Jeon In-ji. “I am delighted to finally be able to visit Saudi Arabia,” Jeon In-ji, who has won three majors, said in a statement. “I look forward to Aramco Saudi Ladies International contributing to the development of women’s golf.”
The major champions participating in the Aramco Saudi Ladies International include Jeon In-ji, Kim Hyo-joo, Ji Eun-hee, Lee Jung-eun 6, Kim A-rim (above Korea), defending champion Georgia Hall (England), world No. 1 Lydia Ko (New Zealand), Lexi Thompson, and Danielle. These are Kang (USA), Hannah Green (Australia), Ashley Buhai (South Africa), Anna Norquist (Sweden), and Patty Tabathanakit (Thailand). They combined for 18 major wins.
Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company, Saudi Aramco, is the title sponsor of the event, which will be held at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in Jeddah for four days from February 16th. 120 players will participate, including 60 players from LET, 50 players within the top 300 in the world rankings, and 10 invited players from sponsors. The total prize money is 5 million dollars (approximately 6.1 billion won) and the winning prize is 750,000 dollars (approximately 900 million won).
Prior to this tournament, the total prize money of PIP Saudi International, the opening match of the Asian Tour held at the same golf course from February 2 to 5, is the same at 5 million dollars. When Saudi Arabia, which is internationally criticized for discriminating against women, is criticized for using golf for ‘sports washing’, analysis is emerging that the size of the prize money was shared as a symbolic measure for gender equality. Last year, the total prize pool of Saudi Ladies International was $1 million.
“We’ve long wanted to have the same prize money as the men’s tournament,” Lexi Thompson said in her statement. We all need to focus on the growth of golf for the female golfers of tomorrow.”
Aramco will play six tournaments with the European Women’s Tour (LET) this year. Starting with the Aramco Saudi Ladies International, the Aramco Series, a team event that tours Bangkok, London, Sotogrande, New York and Jeddah, will be held. It is known that the Aramco series plans to expand to Korea and Australia in the future. 메이저사이트
Unlike LIV Golf, a new men’s golf tour created by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, which faced fierce opposition from the PGA Tour, women’s golf is making a relatively soft landing. This is because, unlike the PGA Tour, which has a lot of money, the LPGA Tour and the LET do not have enough financial space.
LET was driven to the brink of bankruptcy in 2017 by the financial crisis. At the time, five tournaments were canceled due to sponsor issues. The LPGA Tour dug into that gap. In 2019, then LPGA Commissioner Mike Wan signed a partnership with the LET. However, when practical support was not provided, LET joined hands with Golf Saudi Arabia armed with oil money.
With this opportunity, LET helped award world ranking points to the Golf Saudi event. This was a measure that made it possible for LPGA Tour stars to go to Saudi Arabia. Golf Saudi Arabia held the Saudi Ladies International with a total prize money of $1 million in 2020, and raised the prize money five times this year to $5 million. The Aramco series accounts for 20% of the LET schedule this year. In addition, Aramco directly sponsors Allison Lee, Bronte Law, Anna Norquist, and Carlotta Zinda, and pays huge appearance fees (appearance money) to American stars such as Lexi Thompson and Nellie-Jessica Koda sisters. .
As stated earlier, the reason Saudi Arabia spends money on women’s golf is ‘sports washing’. South Arabia is a country with severe gender discrimination, ranking 147th out of 153 countries in the gender discrimination index last year. Recently, winds of change are blowing, such as allowing women to drive at the direction of Crown Prince bin Salman, but discrimination against women remains. To improve this negative perception, huge amounts of money are being poured into golf.