Pro who learned her golf in Riyadh returns for historic tournament

Pro who learned her golf in Riyadh returns for historic tournament
England’s Georgia Coughlin in action during the Aramco Saudi Ladies International golf tournament. (Supplied)
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Updated 20 November 2020

Pro who learned her golf in Riyadh returns for historic tournament

Pro who learned her golf in Riyadh returns for historic tournament
  • Coughlin was 3 years old when she was brought to Riyadh by her father, Richard, who was working for BAE Systems
  • Living in the Arizona Golf Compound near Riyadh with her parents, it was natural for Coughlin to be attracted to golf

KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY: A British expatriate’s daughter has returned to Saudi Arabia to witness history in women’s golf week in the Kingdom.

Georgia Coughlin, from Blackpool, England, is one among a contingent of Ladies European Tour (LET) players out there on the fairways at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club.

“It’s amazing. I can’t believe the opportunities that Golf Saudi and Aramco have given us,” 25-year-old Coughlin said when she spoke to Arab News after the second round of the Saudi Ladies Team International on Wednesday.

The 54-hole tournament that ended on Thursday capped a week that began with the staging of the Kingdom’s first professional women’s golf tournament, the $1 million Aramco Saudi Ladies International, won by Denmark’s Emily Kristine Pedersen in a playoff against Georgia Hall of England on Sunday.

Coughlin said she was a three-year-old toddler when she was brought to Riyadh by her father, Richard, who was working for BAE Systems.

“My mom and dad have been in Riyadh for 22 years now,” added Coughlin.

When she was about five years old she returned to England, and then came back to Riyadh when “I was 14 or 15 to do my exams at the British International School.”

Living in the Arizona Golf Compound near Riyadh with her parents, it was natural for Coughlin to be attracted to golf.

“My villa was on a nine-hole golf course in the Arizona compound. I just used to go out and play on my own. I became a member of Riyadh Golf Club (RGC) and Dirab Ladies Group. We had quite a few lady amateurs there and I used to play with them probably three or four times a week,” said Coughlin.

Coughlin became well known in the local golf community — beating opponents twice her age and winning tournaments at RGC and Dirab Golf & Country Club.

Getting more serious about her golf at 16, Coughlin began taking lessons with the Tunisian PGA-licensed instructor Salem Ayari, who is now one of the five teaching pros at Riyadh Golf Course.

“She’s good, has a very strong short game. I am proud of her, and I know she needs a good caddie to give her a push,” said Ayari of his talented former pupil.

“I wish her luck in her professional career,” added Ayari, whose wife Ghozlene Ayari won the 2019 Pan Arab Women’s Golf Championship but did not have the chance to defend her title due to the pandemic this year.

The interesting part in the Coughlin narrative is that she is a classic example of a golfer in the community who succeeded in making the giant leap to the big leagues.

“Once I started to get a lot better at golf, I thought I could try and compete. I went to Qualifying School and ended up playing well, and that’s how I knew I could compete out here,” said Coughlin, who earned her LET playing card in 2018.

But as she points out: “If it wasn’t for Saudi Arabia, where I picked up that golf club, I wouldn’t be here right now.”


FIA launches probe into fiery Grosjean crash at Bahrain Grand Prix

Updated 03 December 2020

FIA launches probe into fiery Grosjean crash at Bahrain Grand Prix

FIA launches probe into fiery Grosjean crash at Bahrain Grand Prix
  • The Halo device is widely considered to have helped save Romain Grosjean’s life

SAKHIR, Bahrain: Motor racing chiefs announced on Thursday the launch of an investigation into Romain Grosjean’s fiery Bahrain crash, saying the forensic probe would take “around six to eight” weeks to complete.
The French Formula One driver somehow wrenched himself free from his blazing Haas car with just burns to his hands and a broken left foot after a collision with Daniil Kvyat on the first lap of Sunday’s Grand Prix. He left hospital on Wednesday.
In the immediate aftermath of the shocking smash there was widespread praise for modern safety measures in the sport, but also concern over what F1’s motor sport managing director Ross Brawn described as “unpredictable” failures.
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said it had “initiated a detailed analysis of Romain Grosjean’s accident at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix.”
The FIA’s safety director, Adam Baker, said: “With so much data available in Formula 1, it allows us to accurately determine every element of what occurred and this work has already begun.
“We take this research very seriously and will follow a rigorous process to find out exactly what happened before proposing potential improvements.”
The FIA probe will look at a range of factors including Grosjean’s helmet, safety harness, headrest, in-car extinguisher and the Halo cockpit protection.
The Halo device is widely considered to have helped save Grosjean’s life as his car was sliced in two after careering into a barrier.
“The ‘halo’ saved the day and it saved Romain,” Brawn said on Sunday.
“There was controversy in developing it initially, but there can’t be any doubt now, so hats off to those who pushed for the introduction.”
But he added: “The fire is worrying. The split in the barrier is worrying and the barrier coming apart, but we can be happy with the safety of the car – that got us through today, but things failed in an unpredictable way.
“We haven’t seen anything like that for a very long time, but the barrier splitting normally results in a fatality.”
At the circuit new safety measures have been introduced to reduce the risk of a repeat crash at this Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix.
Two rows of tires wrapped in a conveyor belt have been installed in front of a reconstructed guardrail at the exit of Turn Three.
Several drivers expressed serious concerns at the failure of the barrier and the manner in which it was punctured.
In other changes to the circuit, where this weekend’s Grand Prix will be using the shorter “outer loop’, a kerb has been removed at Turn Nine – which was used as Turn 13 last Sunday – and a tire barrier in the approach to that corner has been extended and enlarged to four rows in depth.
Grosjean left hospital on Wednesday and in an Instagram post he highlighted the professionalism of a marshal with an extinguisher and the FIA doctor in the following Safety Car, who was on the scene very quickly.
“I told him he was a hero,” said Grosjean.
“He went into the fire as much as he could to save me. I felt Ian’s hands pulling me over the barrier and I knew I was safe... life will never be the same again.”
Grosjean is resting and healing from burns at a hotel in Abu Dhabi where he hopes he will be fit enough to race in the season-closing race next weekend.