Varner III and Hall prepare to defend their titles this month at the PIF Saudi International, February 2-5, and the Aramco Saudi Ladies International, February 16-19
Riyadh: The equal prize funds available for the forthcoming men’s and women’s golf tournaments in Saudi Arabia are creating a powerful statement about equality in sport, according to reigning champions Harold Varner III and Georgia Hall as they prepare to defend their titles in the Kingdom over the coming weeks.
Hall, the 2018 Women’s British Open Champion, added: “Massive credit to Golf Saudi and the sponsors for raising the prize fund to match the men’s now. It’s a massive step for the Ladies European Tour, for women’s golf and hopefully that will help raise the bar for other tournaments and companies to do the same in the future. “
Varner also added on the news: “Growing up I played golf so I can provide for my family, when players have the chance to make more money, I am happy for them. The women work so hard and commit everything to the game, so they are more than deserving of the opportunity. I’m thrilled for them and for the likes of Golf Saudi and the sponsors who do good things when they’re able to do good things.”
Varner and Hall were visiting Riyadh ahead of the PIF Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers and the Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by PIF to inspire a new generation of golfers in a special school clinic with boys and girls from Trbiyah Namouthajiyah School.
Both players hailed Saudi Arabia’s growth as a golfing destination hosting the world’s best players as well as filtering the growth down to grass roots level.
Talking about the growth of golf in Saudi Arabia, Varner III said: “To grow the game as professional golfer, the best thing we can do is be the best golfer. I holed that really long putt last year and people in Saudi Arabia know more about golf. Also, a cool part was being with the kids today, they’ll remember playing with Georgia and myself for a long time, they’ll be attached and hopefully carry on playing with the right opportunities.”
Hall said: “Seeing the kids playing earlier and being so excited about the game and having fun with it is the best thing to see. It’s important to me to help the younger generation get into the game. I think back to when I was growing up, I wanted to have a role model that I could look up to and it would be a dream if I may be that for someone else”
The PIF Saudi International, taking place from February 2-5 at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, has always been a major draw for the world’s best players with a prize fund of $5million up for grabs. American star Varner III faces stiff competition from a star-studded field featuring major winners such as Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau at this year’s Saudi International, the opening event of the 2023 Asian Tour season in King Abdullah Economic City.
Hall has just as tough a challenge ahead as she prepares to defend her Aramco Saudi Ladies International from February 16 to 19 at the same venue, with notable challengers including world No.1 Lydia Ko, no.4 Atthaya Thitikul, Ireland’s Leona Maguire and other big names in a field which features numerous of the world’s top 20 players.