In-form Scottish pair 'happy' to be teeing up in first ladies' event in Saudi Arabia

In-form Scottish duo Kelsey MacDonald and Kylie Henry insist they are both comfortable with their decision to be in Saudi Arabia for this week’s ground-breaking first women’s professional tournament.

Kelsey MacDonald on her way to a top-10 finish in last week's Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic at the Emirates Golf Club. Picture: Tristan Jones
Kelsey MacDonald on her way to a top-10 finish in last week's Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic at the Emirates Golf Club. Picture: Tristan Jones

Some players are boycotting the Aramco Saudi Ladies International, which starts at Royal Greens in King Abdullah Economic City on Thursday, due to concerns over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

But MacDonald and Henry are set to be among seven Scots in a field battling it out for a $1 million prize pot on the Red Sea coast, where Dustin Johnson and Graeme McDowell triumphed in the first two versions of the Saudi International on the European Tour.

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“We are out here to promote golf and, more specifically, women’s golf and I believe that this can only be a positive,” MacDonald told The Scotsman. “I am comfortable with the choice I’ve made but respect my fellow competitors with their choices also.”

Kylie Henry en route to her course-record nine-under 63 under the floodlights on the Faldo Course at the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai. Picture: Tristan Jones

Concurring, Henry said: “I totally respect other players’ decisions not to be here, but I personally feel like the tournament represents change and progression. So I’m proud to be here, support the LET and enjoy what will be a spectacular event.”

Both players are heading into the event with a spring in their step after MacDonald tied for eighth in the Omega Moonlight Dubai Classic last week and Henry also finished in the top 10 after signing off with a course-record 63 on the Faldo Course at the Emirates Golf Club.

“I’m very happy with the way I have played all week considering playing time has been curtailed by COVID,” said Nairn woman MacDonald of her effort in an event won by world No 9 Minjee Lee from Australia.

“The LET and sponsors did a fantastic job organising the event in such difficult times and they have to be commended for that. To finish top 10, competing against such a strong field, has given me a lot of confidence going into this week.”

Referring to the event being the first leg of a double-header in Saudi, the former Scottish Women’s champion added: “I’m looking forward to playing in two fantastic events. It’s a world-class field this week and will be a great opportunity to showcase the best talent in the women’s game.”

Two-time LET winner Henry is up to seventh in the Race to Costa Del Rankings after her last-day nine-under-par salvo in the UAE.

“That’s the best stroke-play round I’ve ever had,” she said. “I hit it brilliant and had lots of chances. I’ve been playing really solid for a while and gone low a few times in bounce games, but to do it in a tournament feels great.

“It was great to sneak a top 10 after a poor start to the tournament. The field was strong and it was a fun event. Now I’m very excited for this week’s event. The course out here is great and it’ll reward the best golf played.

“The prize fund is another sign of progress for the LET as this event raises the bar for our full-field events and it will be very rewarding to the girls that play well.”

Joining MacDonald and Henry in a field, which is headed by Solheim Cup stars Georgia Hall and Charley Hull, are Michele Thomson, Carly Booth, Alison Muirhead, Laura Murray and Heather MacRae.

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