KAEC: Saudi golf, and in particular the women’s game in the Kingdom, may still be in its infancy but already it has an emerging local star in 16-year-old Lujain Khalil.
Born and raised in Jeddah, Khalil took up the sport as she entered her teens and has continued to excel since then thanks to the support of her family, especially her father.
She said: “He is my father, coach, brother, friend and also my caddie.”
Having competed in competitions from the age of 13, she already has a title to her name.
Now, the young Saudi has been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity after being invited to compete as an amateur at this weekend’s $1 million Aramco Team Series challenge, a Ladies European Tour event, in her hometown of Jeddah.
“I don’t deny it, I still have a long way to go, but at the speed I am going, with the dedication and love for this sport, I intend to reach the top in a short timeframe,” she told Arab News.
At the Aramco Team Series Jeddah, Khalil has been invited to play in a team alongside English star Hannah Burke, and Maha Haddioui, the Moroccan professional golfer and first Arab woman to play on the LET.
“I am lucky and feel so happy about where my game has come. It is so nice to know that you are progressing year after year.
“It is my privilege to play with such great players as Hannah and Maha and they have been very helpful with their advice. The most important thing for me, is that I must learn from them, and there is more to learn.
“This is an amazing opportunity for me, and I really thank the Aramco Team Series for giving us, as Saudi golfers, this opportunity. I can’t wait, and I look forward to learning from the women that I hope to emulate one day.
“I definitely will learn a lot this week, as I always do, competing against higher-level competition, against the pros, obviously. I will also learn a lot about myself by seeing how I compare to them, and I have a chance to go home and work on that,” she added.
As a self-confessed “golf addict,” Khalil has decided she wants to have a career in the game, but completing her education remains her priority.
She said: “When I started playing golf, I shifted my education to home schooling where I get my classes online. In the morning it is my time for golf and at night it is my study time.”
Her ultimate ambition is not only to become one of the best players in the region, but the world.
“My goal is to be a top-ranked female player in the world, as well as be a gold Olympic medalist,” Khalil added.