Innovative new golf format swings in for Saudi Ladies Team International

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England’s Charley Hull, left, and Georgia Hall who will both see action in next month’s Saudi Ladies Team International. (Supplied)
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The 16th hole at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club. (Supplied)
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Updated 16 October 2020

Innovative new golf format swings in for Saudi Ladies Team International

  • Captains to use live NFL-style draft system to select first pro teammate – with random draw for second

JEDDAH: Golf Saudi on Thursday unveiled the format for next month’s debut Saudi Ladies Team International, a first-of-its-kind tournament that will see 36 team captains recruit their players using a live NFL-style draft system, before competing for a share of $500,000 prize money.

To be held  Nov. 17 and 19, the team contest will be the first ever points-earning Ladies European Tour (LET) event where professionals play alongside amateur golfers with team and individual scoring running concurrently.

The event will take place two days after the Kingdom’s maiden women’s golf tournament, the $1 million Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by the Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Each captain will recruit one fellow LET pro to their team using a draft system similar to that in NFL, NBA, and other franchise leagues, and can base their pick on anything – whether that be current form, ranking, or purely friendship. Their remaining LET professional teammate will be selected at random, with the team being completed by one amateur player.

The team of four will then play three rounds at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in the Saudi coastal resort of King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), where each team’s best two individual scores will be combined at the end of each round — with amateurs on three quarters of their official playing handicap.

The team with the lowest total score after all three days will be declared the champion and will see its three professionals take home a winning share of the $300,000 prize fund.

The lowest-scoring professional across the three days — who may well come from a losing team — will themselves be rewarded with a share of the $200,000 individual prize fund.

Golf Saudi CEO Majed Al-Sorour, said: “The Saudi Ladies Team International is a completely new and innovative tournament format not seen before on any Tour.

“Alongside the LET, it is a chance to grow the women’s game in new and exciting ways — and follows the first-ever professional women’s golf event to be played in Saudi Arabia earlier in the week.

“The players love team golf and will enjoy this unique opportunity to try a new format through our groundbreaking and exciting
draft system.

“We understand the impact the pandemic has had on Tour golf this year, particularly in the women’s game, so we wanted to do everything we could around the debut Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by PIF to benefit the players across our double-header golf week in making it competitive, fun, and rewarding,” Al-Sorour added.

The Saudi Ladies Team International will hold world-ranking Rolex points for Tour professionals, with Solheim Cup qualification points and Race to Costa del Sol points also up for grabs.

Each day will have a two-tee start, and amateurs — who will be tournament guests — will receive three quarters of their full handicap allowance.

The tournament will be the second event of what has been dubbed Saudi “women’s week of golf,” with the Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by PIF taking place from Nov. 12 to 15 — only the second-ever international, professional women-only sports event held in the Kingdom.

Players already confirmed include Major-winning Georgia Hall, Solheim Cup hero and former LET Order of Merit winner Charley Hull, Wales’ Amy Boulden, and Camilla Lennarth of Sweden. Many more will be announced in the upcoming weeks.

For more information about both the Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by PIF and the Saudi Ladies Team International, visit

Guardiola under pressure as City chase elusive crown

Updated 9 min 36 sec ago

Guardiola under pressure as City chase elusive crown

  • Despite all their domestic success in recent years, City have never gone beyond the semifinals of the Champions League

LONDON: Pep Guardiola starts his latest bid to lead Manchester City to Champions League glory with the shadows of past failures casting doubt on his ability to secure that elusive title.

City host Porto in their opening Champions League group match on Wednesday with Guardiola's failing in the tournament weighing heavily on both the Spanish boss and his club.

Despite all their domestic success in recent years, City have never gone beyond the semifinals of the Champions League and Guardiola has found the competition equally vexing for much of the last decade.

Since he won the Champions League as Barcelona boss for the second time in 2011, Guardiola has failed to return to the final of Europe's elite club competition.

That nine-year drought includes four years of frustration since he took charge at City in 2016.

In that time, Guardiola has seen City beaten by Monaco in the last 16 and Liverpool, Tottenham and Lyon in the quarterfinals.

He also lost in three semifinals during his time as Bayern Munich manager before moving to City.

Last season's shock 3-1 defeat against Lyon in Lisbon was especially galling as City were heavy favorites against the French side.

Guardiola deserved a large portion of the blame for that letdown after his tactical tinkering appeared to unsettle his players and did nothing to tilt the tie in City's favor.

Interpreted by Guardiola's critics as further proof that his Champions League success at Barcelona was due to the presence of the great Lionel Messi's presence, the only bright side of the Lyon loss was that it was not their farewell to Europe for a while.

For several months last season, it appeared City would not even be competing in the Champions League this term after UEFA gave them a two-year ban from European competitions for Financial Fairplay breaches.

City's legal dream team won that battle and the suspension was eventually thrown out on appeal.

Whether Guardiola can be as successful in Europe as City's Abu Dhabi-based owners were in the court room remains far from certain.

Adding to the unease around City ahead of their European campaign is the unresolved issue of Guardiola's future.

Guardiola is out of contract at the end of the season and has yet to agree on a new deal amid speculation that he may decide to leave the Etihad Stadium in 2021.

For now, Guardiola will focus on Porto's visit to Manchester rather than entertaining questions about his long-term plans.

The 49-year-old insists he has to earn a prolonged stay at City by improving on last season's disappointment, which saw them surrender the Premier League to Liverpool and win only the League Cup.

There have been some worrying signs already as Leicester thrashed City 5-2, while Saturday's 1-0 win against Arsenal was far from convincing.

Significantly, Guardiola was able to welcome back Sergio Aguero last weekend as City's record goalscorer made his first appearance for four months after knee surgery.

City have lacked a cutting edge in Aguero's absence and Guardiola's hopes of a serious Champions League challenge hinge on the Argentine striker staying fit.

"The important thing is that Sergio comes back in good physical condition, starts to get his rhythm, doesn't get more injuries and plays good," Guardiola said.

"We know what he means for us, we know how we appreciate him, but now he has to show like every one of us, me first, that we deserve to continue here and playing good and winning games."