English golf star Charley Hull to join Major winner Georgia Hall at Saudi Ladies International golf week

English golfing sensation Charley Hull (L) on Tuesday confirmed her spot in Saudi Arabia’s “women’s week of golf” – joining Major-winning, Solheim Cup teammate Georgia Hall (R) as one of the headline names. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 06 October 2020

English golf star Charley Hull to join Major winner Georgia Hall at Saudi Ladies International golf week

  • Both women played pivotal roles in Europe’s 2019 Solheim Cup triumph over Team USA at Gleneagles
  • Royal Greens Golf Club – in the coastal resort of King Abdullah Economic City – will be hosting two world-ranking tournaments

JEDDAH: English golfing sensation Charley Hull on Tuesday confirmed her spot in Saudi Arabia’s “women’s week of golf” – joining Major-winning, Solheim Cup teammate Georgia Hall as one of the headline names competing in next month’s “unprecedented” $1.5million events.

The 24-year old will head to the Middle East seeking her second win in the region, having come out on top in Abu Dhabi’s Fatima Bint Mubarak Open last year.

Hull will have two chances to do so, with the Ladies European Tour event last week announcing that Royal Greens Golf Club – in the coastal resort of King Abdullah Economic City – will be hosting two world-ranking tournaments in just seven days: the $1million prize fund Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by the Kingdom's Public Investment Fund (November 12-15), and the Saudi Ladies Team International, where professionals and amateurs will compete in teams (November 17-19).

Both tournaments will be held within a safe bio-secure environment and will see more than 100 of the world’s best golfers descend on the Kingdom for the first ever women’s professional golf event held in Saudi Arabia.

*****

READ MORE: Saudi Arabia welcomes return of live international sport with women’s golf events

*****

It will also be only the second international professional women-only sports event to take place within the Kingdom, and the all-new team format promised for the Saudi Ladies Team International will be a Ladies European Tour first – a set-up that could make for a 2019 Solheim Cup reunion for Hull and her European counterpart Hall, who confirmed her place in the history-making event earlier in the year, alongside Golf Saudi ambassadors Amy Boulden and Camilla Lennarth.

“To play golf around the world was always my dream growing up and now I have the opportunity to compete in another new country for the women’s game,” Hull said. “The course looks absolutely stunning so I can’t wait to get out there and compete against some of the world’s top female golfers. It is great to be competing in this inaugural tournament, which is unprecedented, as we play golf in Saudi Arabia for the first time.”

Hall added: “It’s been a long time coming, with March’s original event postponed due to the pandemic but the prospect of getting out somewhere new and competing in not just one but two tournaments in the space of a week is incredibly exciting for the players – and shows incredible backing for the women’s game.

“The golf course looks fantastic and I’m sure will bring out the best in us, so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Both women played pivotal roles in Europe’s 2019 Solheim Cup triumph over Team USA at Gleneagles, earning seven points between them. 2014 LET Player of the Year and Order of Merit winner Hull carried that form into the LPGA Tour’s season-ending CME Group Tour Championship last November, where a second-placed finish earned her almost $500,000.

She has returned to post-lockdown golf in style, winning the Order of Merit in the inaugural Rose Ladies Series in August, as well as competing in major events in both the UK and US.

*****

READ MORE: Saudi Golf Federation unveils ‘Get into Golf’ program in schools

*****

Best known for winning the 2018 Women’s Open – the first English player to do so in 14 years – Hall’s career has already seen her top the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit and be named Tour Player of the Year two years in succession.

She finished runner-up to Charley Hull in the maiden Rose Ladies Series in August, before going onto claim her second LPGA Tour victory at the Cambia Portland Classic last month, where she held her nerve to defeat Ashleigh Buhai in a sudden-death playoff.

The events will be Saudi Arabia’s third and fourth professional golf tournaments in less than two years, following the successful running of the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers in 2019 and 2020. Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell won this year’s January event.

November’s consecutive Saudi tournaments will offer the LET season’s biggest purse for a regular tour event after only the Scottish Open.

Majed Al-Sorour, CEO Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation, said: “We’re delighted to be able to host exciting new golf tournaments capable of attracting the game’s biggest names – and Charley and Georgia are definitely two of those. With both tournaments being broadcast live across the country, it will be a watershed moment for young Saudis to watch these elite level golfers perform within the Kingdom that we hope will inspire many to come and give golf a try.

“We look forward to welcoming Charley, Georgia and all the other players we’ll have competing in November to what we aim to make a world-class sporting occasion, held within a safe bubble environment and overlooking the turquoise waters off the Red Sea coast.”


Even in death, Diego Maradona continues to haunt Peter Shilton

Updated 27 November 2020

Even in death, Diego Maradona continues to haunt Peter Shilton

  • While other members of that defeated England team have been gracious, Shilton still protests over that goal
  • Maradona would have won the now historic match, even without the help of his hands

DUBAI: Imagine being Peter Shilton.

It’s May 30, 1979. You have just won the European Cup with Nottingham Forest after beating Malmo 1-0 in Munich. A year earlier you had won the English First Division title. You are on top of the world, to many people the best goalkeeper in the world. A million joyous emotions swirl through your head.

You have the distinct look of a man who has no inclination that in exactly seven years and 23 days, you’ll suffer an almighty indignity, or two, that will define your existence.

Only two days after Forest’s triumph, an 18-year-old who will orchestrate your future humiliation is giving Scotland the run-around at Hampden Park, capping a devastating display of dribbling skills with a goal as Argentina beat the hosts 3-1. Keep an eye on that Diego Maradona, he could go far in this game.

It’s May 13, 1980, and you’re Peter Shilton.

You’re watching England beat Argentina 3-1 at Wembley in another friendly match. In the first half, the now 19-year-old Argentinian announces himself to a new audience in a way that would become very familiar to England defenders in the coming years. 

Receiving the ball in midfield, in one movement he pivots and then proceeds to cut his way through the home defense. One by one, Phil Thompson, Phil Neal and Kenny Sansom are left in a shambolic heap. Faced with the great Ray Clemence in goal, he clips the ball agonizingly wide of the far post. But do keep an eye on this Maradona kid. 

But if you’re Peter Shilton, you have more important things on your mind. Like retaining the European Cup with Nottingham Forest two weeks later by beating Hamburg 1-0 at the Bernabeu. You’re not to know it, but your career has peaked. Still, your place in history is assured, you can sleep sound in that knowledge. At least for six years.

Your career trajectory and that of Maradona are about to diverge dramatically. There will be no more league titles and European Cups for you. Maradona leaves Boca Juniors for Barcelona and Napoli to conquer the world. But fear not, your paths shall cross.

June 22, 1986. The Azteca Stadium, Mexico City. You’re Peter Shilton, you’re 36, and you’re stepping out for arguably the biggest match of your career; England v Argentina in the World Cup quarter-final.

Ninety minutes go by in a blur. The final whistle goes and it feels like you’ve just lived through a nightmare.

Maradona goes on to become world champion a week later, and you go on to be haunted by bitterness for the rest of your life

Ali Khaled

There are vague memories of being outjumped in a basketball-style tip-off by a man 18 cm shorter than you. The Hand of God may have been at play, but where was the hand of Shilton?

You barely had time to recover from going 1-0 down before a familiar scene plays out in front of you. That short Argentinian is at it again, this time reenacting his dance through the English defense in 1980. Here, it’s Glenn Hoddle, Peter Reid, Terry Butcher and Terry Fenwick performing the guard of honor. What Clemence saw at Wembley, you see now.

But by this time Diego Maradona is the greatest player the world has ever seen. In the middle of the greatest individual and tournament performance the World Cup will ever witness. There will be no repeat of Wembley’s profligacy. 

A little feint and you’re on the seat of your pants, resigned to your fate. A tap in and Maradona has just scored the greatest goal of all time, but only the second most famous of the previous five minutes.

In that moment you are the Salieri to his Mozart; the George Foreman to his Muhammad Ali; the Wile E. Coyote to his Road Runner.

At full time, a gracious Gary Lineker, who had threatened to wipe out the two-goal deficit but only managed to halve it, embraces Maradona. The Englishman’s face betrays an admiration, the Argentine’s an exhausted joy. They become life-long friends.

Maradona goes on to become world champion a week later, and you go on to be haunted by bitterness for the rest of your life.

Now it’s July 4, 1990. Imagine being Peter Shilton and it’s the World Cup semi-final against West Germany. Within reach, though probably not yours, is a final against Argentina and the chance to avenge the indignity of four years earlier.

But now you are 40 and a shadow of the goalkeeper you used to be. You’ve already lost another battle with gravity, the ball sailing over your head from Andreas Brehme’s deflected free-kick. Not for the first time, Lineker saves the day with an equalizer, and the match goes to penalties.

You guess the right way for every single penalty the Germans take and yet your seemingly shrinking arms get nowhere near the ball for any of them. 

England are out, and your hopes of revenge are dashed forever.

Imagine you're Peter Shilton in the twilight of your career and in retirement. To you, Maradona is forever a “cheat”. To Maradona, you’re a mere footballing midget, worthy of a single mention in his autobiography, and only to call you a “thermos head”, a colloquial Argentinian jibe for someone who is considered “stupid.” Maradona 3, Shilton 0. 

Now imagine being Peter Shilton on Nov. 25, 2020. You’ve just heard that the man responsible for your career-defining moment has passed away due to a heart attack at 60. Plastered all over the risible tabloid media’s front pages is the moment of your greatest humiliation. What do you do?

As the world grieved, you had the choice to be magnanimous, belatedly generous in praise of a fallen great. For once, to be the bigger, if not necessarily the highest-jumping, man. To be like Lineker, who on the BBC gave an eloquent and heart-wrenching tribute to his departed friend. Or to simply stay quiet.

But that is not the Shilton way. And the English media knew exactly who to call on for one final rant, one final accusation of cheating. To the surprise of no one, you answered the call.

From beyond the grave, Diego Maradona has humiliated you one last time. Just imagine being Peter Shilton.