The Ladies European Tour (LET) tournament tees off at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club with 126 of the Europe’s finest female golfers vying to become the inaugural winner in the UAE capital.
Swedish legend Sorenstam, 46, will use her role as tournament ambassador to scout players ahead of next year’s Solheim Cup, although for now she has a bigger goal in mind.
“It’s nice to be here with the LET and to be a part of history,” said the European Solheim Cup captain.
“I’ve never been here before but I’ve brought my whole family because we wanted to share it together.
“The first female professional event in Abu Dhabi, that says a lot, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it and hopefully inspire the young women and girls to pick up the game, introduce them to it and spread the message, it’s fantastic.”
The top table, including golf legend Annika Sorenstam, and LET professionals Beth Allen and Melissa Reid pic.twitter.com/g07PFaU0pC— Matt Jones (@MattJones360) October 31, 2016
One entrant to look out for in Abu Dhabi will be American Beth Allen – currently second on the 2016 LET Order of Merit behind China’s Shanshan Feng.
“It’s a very special event and obviously it would be great to win it,” admitted the 35-year-old. “I’m second on the Order of Merit so it would be nice to do that.
“It’s a great course and I’m excited to tee off. It’s a risk versus reward course. I think it will be a challenge and I also think a good ball striker will win this event.”
Her belief in a ball striker being favourite was backed up by England’s Melissa Reid, who is excited to be playing a tournament on a course she is very familiar with.
“I’m very honoured to be here for the inaugural championship. Saadiyat is a place that’s close to my heart,” said the 29-year-old who is 38th on the Order of Merit.
“I always come here during preseason to do boot camps so I’m excited and very proud we now have an LET tournament here.
“I think the course is superb, one of the best courses we play all year, if not the best. It’s going to be a great test and I think it’s going to be a ball striker that wins this tournament.
“This week’s also about the responsibility that we have as players to the local women. If we can inspire one woman to take up the game of golf then we will have achieved something.”
Dr Mai Al Jaber, of the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, meanwhile, is excited for the legacy the tournament could help create in the Emirates.
She said: “The event is a landmark event. It will bring together the world’s best female golfers and give Emirati women a unique chance to meet their favourite stars.
“Hopefully it will inspire more engagement from Emirati women with the goal of achieving their sporting aspirations.”
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