Golfers participating in this week’s inaugural Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open (FBMLO) are “thrilled” to be part of history and have vowed to inspire UAE women to take up golf.
The tournament, which takes place at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club between Wednesday and Saturday, is the first Ladies’ European Tour (LET) golf tournament to be staged in Abu Dhabi.
One of the greatest women’s golfers in history, Annika Sorenstam, the captain of Europe’s 2017 Solheim Cup team, is acting as a non-playing guest of honour at the tournament.
“I am very excited to be here,” said the 45-year-old Swede at the pre-event press conference at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club on Monday. “I’ve brought my whole family with me as I wanted to share the experience together of being part of history with this being the first major female sports event in Abu Dhabi.
“I am thrilled to be part of it.”
As well as conducting a coaching clinic for members of the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy (FBMA), Sorenstam will be showcasing her skills in the Tournament Village.
Sorenstam, who won 72 Ladies’ Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour titles during her career, including 10 major championships, said she had no regrets about not playing this week.
Instead, she is relishing the chance to assess the form of potential picks for the Europe Solheim Cup team, who will take on the United States in the biennial clash next August.
And she added: “Through my clinics, I will share stories and experience with the kids and hope to inspire them to pick up the game. If we inspire just one person to pick up the game, that would be great.
“I have heard the organisers hope to get 100 women picking up the game here by next year.”
English golfer Melissa Reid was similarly enthusiastic about this week’s tournament, particularly given the stunning location and peerless course.
“I’ve played the course many, many times,” the 29-year-old, who has won five LET titles, said. “Me and my coach used to come before the Australian swing in January. I think the course is superb.
“It’s the best course we play on all year with the views and the fact it’s by the sea.
“I spoke to my caddie earlier and he said the course is set up superbly. I think a ball striker is going to win this tournament.”
Fellow competitor, Beth Allen, added: “I played nine holes this morning and it was fantastic. The course is risk-reward, with a lot of birdie opportunities.
“The par threes are pretty tough and will be a challenge. I think a ball striker is going to win, like Melissa said.”
The tournament, with a prize fund of Dh2,021,250 ($550,000), is organised by the FBMA and supported by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council. It will take up a key position in the LET schedule as one of its season-ending events.
Dr Mai Al Jaber, board member, FBMA, said: “Hosting this new golf event is part of our commitment to encourage Emirati women to participate in all aspects of sports through sport education, training and competition. Alongside the world’s leading professionals playing a tournament, a full schedule of community engagement activities will make this one of the most unique golf events in the UAE calendar.”
The new event is being held under the patronage of Her Highness Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Wife of the late President Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood
Visit www.fbmladiesopen.com for more information.
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