European Tour sets first with Saudi tournament deal

The European Tour has struck a long-term deal to stage a tournament in Saudi Arabia, in what will mark the first professional golf event to be held in the country.

The first edition of the tournament will take place from January 31 to February 3 next year at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City.

The Tour has signed a three-year agreement for the course to host the event, which will form part of its early-season Desert Swing schedule. The deal has been signed during the visit of Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, to London this week.

The venue, which overlooks the Red Sea, also includes a state-of-the-art clubhouse, practice facilities and other residential and recreational facilities. It is already used as a training base for the Saudi national golf team.

The event ties in with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan to showcase the country’s business, leisure and tourism industries. The tournament is the latest in a string of sports events that have been organised in Saudi Arabia as part of this strategy.

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.”

European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley (pictured) added: “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.”

Details of the official event title and prize money will be made during a formal announcement of the tournament in May.