Ivan Khodabakhsh backs golf in DUBAi to get Paige Spiranac

Joy Chakravarty 19:09 12/12/2015
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Support: Ivan Khodabakhsh (r) and Mohamed Juma Buamaim.

Ivan Khodabakhsh, the chief executive officer of the Ladies European Tour, has backed the decision of ‘golf in DUBAi’, organisers of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, to give an invite to American internet sensation Paige Spiranac.

The 22-year-old Spiranac, who recently turned professional after a decent college career in the US, is known more for her skills with the social media than golf. Dubai Ladies Masters was her debut in a pro tournament and she missed the cut after rounds of 77 and 79.

There has been a bit of a debate over the invitation to her, with some people feeling a Tour player or some top amateurs would have been more deserving candidate.

But Khodabakhsh, while releasing the LET calendar for the 2016 season, said: “It’s a professional tournament. That means we need to be also entertaining.

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“We want to focus on competitive sport but entertainment is a big part of this, too. Whatever brings more attention, not just to this tournament, but to women’s golf, is fine with us.

“People who have not been close to women’s golf look at it and say, ‘wow, this is actually cool, I want to be a part of it’. It’s good for the game.

“So she has had a great impact here, but she has had a great impact internationally. We have broadcasters calling us up wanting to see more. That’s only good for everybody.”

Mohamed Juma Buamaim, CEO of ‘golf in DUBAi’, added: “I think for us, she made a big impact, especially in the United States. This is why we brought her.

“She didn’t make the cut, but I did not expect her to make the cut because it’s her first tournament, and there was so much pressure on her.

“But I’m very happy to have her and we’ll have her back again if she wants to come back.”

Dubai Ladies Masters remains the season-ending championship in 2016 as well, and will be played December 7-10 next year.

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