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Mar 17th, 2022

Hall and Nordqvist eye up the Saudi Ladies International

Duo view the event as a "headline" one on tour

Reigning and former British Open champions Anna Nordqvist and Georgia Hall have described this week’s Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by Public Investment Fund as “one of the headline events” in women’s golf, as they get set to tee-off in what will be the first ever Ladies European Tour event to feature three Arabic golfers.
Anna Nordqvist & Georgia Hall speak to the media

Moroccan pair Ines Laklalech and Lina Belmati will make their professional LET debuts when the $1million tournament gets underway tomorrow (Thursday), joining countrywoman and 10-season Tour stalwart Maha Haddioui to together establish the strongest ever Arabic representation in any LET field.
That diversity, says Nordqvist, is one of the reasons the Tour continues to grow and attract many of the biggest names in women’s golf to its events, showcased this week on the Red Sea coast where she and Hall will go head-to-head with the likes of Carlota Ciganda (ESP), Bronte Law (ENG) and Emily Kristine Pedersen (DEN) in the tournament’s third annual hosting, which comes just four months after its last.
Nordqvist said: “I think that's what’s so great about the Ladies European Tour. There are players from all over the world – some girls from Australia, you even see players coming over from the U.S to compete.  And playing all over the world, too: playing Saudi, Dubai, we were just in Kenya a couple of weeks ago, then going to South Africa, then to Thailand.
“So I think the diversity and everything about the Ladies European Tour, it's a place where a lot of people feel like home, and it’s a very friendly atmosphere. That’s why I enjoy coming back and playing on the Tour because I like the atmosphere.”
Hurry up, this is heavy!

The Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by PIF is the first of six Golf Saudi-backed tournaments on the Ladies European Tour calendar for 2022, with the other five being individual $1million prize-fund Aramco Team Series events, which will be hosted around the world, including in New York and in London.
That investment has helped the LET offer a record prize purse of nearly $30million for its 2022 season, more than double what was on offer in 2019.
Of that backing, Georgia Hall said: “I think it's fantastic. It’s definitely what the LET needs and it definitely wasn't like that when I was on the LET five, six years ago. I'm really happy for the girls, and that's why you get LPGA players coming over, because they want to compete in these events and play on this Tour.”
The 25-year-old continued: “I think [the Aramco Saudi Ladies International] is one of the headline events for the LET – and rightly so. The setup is really good, [and the course] not too short distance-wise. We get looked after incredibly well. We just really enjoy coming here. That's why we keep coming back.”
The Aramco Saudi Ladies International at Royal Greens

World number 25 Hall is one of the tournament favourites heading into Thursday, having lost out in a play-off to Solheim Cup team-mate Emily Kristine Pedersen in the event’s 2020 debut hosting, then to a red-hot Lydia Ko in November of last year.
“I played not too badly the last couple of individual events here,” said Hall. “I really enjoy the golf course. The wind can get up quite a lot, which I don't mind. I feel quite comfortable playing in the wind. I think I'm used to it a little bit more than other players. I like moving the golf ball around, hitting low shots. I think it will be fairly windy this week, but I've been out there this morning and the course is in good condition again and the greens not too fast, so I think they'll be able to hold when you hit it on.”
Nordqvist echoed those thoughts. She said: “I love coming here. This is my third time now. We've had quite a few rounds around this track and this is probably as good as I’ve ever seen this golf course. It’s quite lush out there.
“This wind is as powerful as I've ever seen it. It’s going to definitely be a challenge. Usually when [the tournament] is played in November, you’ve had quite a few months of tournament play behind you and maybe [have] a little more awareness where the ball is going and stuff, so I think it's going to add an extra challenge this year, just feeling a bit rusty in tournament play.”
Arabic golfers Ines Laklalech, Maha Haddioui & Lena Belmati

Morocco’s Maha Haddioui has long carried the flag as the sole Arabic player on the Ladies European Tour.
However, that changes this week with the arrival of two fellow Moroccans as full-time LET professionals: Ines Laklalech and Lina Belmati, both of whom make their debuts in Saudi Arabia.
Haddioui was a key figure in the launch of the debut Aramco Saudi Ladies International back in 2020, the playing of which prompted 1,200 Saudi women and girls to sign-up to learn golf across the tournament’s four days. She firmly believes events like the Aramco Saudi Ladies International are key to driving the continued growth of the game, on a global scale.
The 33-year-old said: “As a professional golfer, we travel the world, and the LET is there to inspire the people of the countries we go to to take up the game and to look at golf as something they could take on or a sport they could play.
“For me, three years ago, I didn't think I'd be sitting here with two Moroccan other professionals and playing this event. I think it’s a great thing. It’s really small steps that make things like this happen – having tournaments, having opportunities to play in tournaments like these.
“Having fields like this and seeing there’s three Moroccan girls playing in it I'm sure will inspire Tunisian girls, for example, or girls from other places in the Arab world, to say, ‘Well, three of them made it, so I'm sure I can make it, too.’”

TAGS: Ladies European Tour, Aramco Saudi Ladies International, Georgia Hall, Anna Nordqvist, Ines Laklalech, Maha Haddioui, Lina Belmati, 2022