Davies criticises prize money on offer at LET events ahead of trailblazing Aramco Team Series

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Davies, 57, would like to see Ladies European Tour prize funds move in the direction of the $1million Aramco Team Series
Davies, 57, would like to see Ladies European Tour prize funds move in the direction of the $1million Aramco Team Series

Dame Laura Davies has raised her concern at the level of prize funds at many of the Ladies European Tour events.

Five of the first six tournaments on the 2021 LET schedule have been worth just €200,000.

Last weekend saw Stephanie Kyriacou win €30,000 for clinching top spot at the Big Green Egg Open in the Netherlands.

Wales’ Lydia Hall, Scotland’s Carly Booth and England’s Eleanor Givens were among four golfers who finished tied ninth and earned €4,500. Solheim Cup prospect Alice Hewson from Hertfordshire finished tied-38th and picked up just € 1,320.00.

Those numbers are light years behind the PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour – but Davies has no issues with that.

But what the English star would like to see is Ladies European Tour prize funds move in the direction of the $1million Aramco Team Series, which takes place at the Centurion Club near Watford, where she is just one of a series of big names appearing.

In 2021 Aramco is staging a total of four $1m events – this week’s in Hertfordshire, plus further ones in Spain, USA and Saudi Arabia

Davies, 57, said: “The more forward-thinking sponsors we get like them, the better. They are doing an absolutely cracking job for us.

“And what they’ll hopefully do is make all the other sponsors move the bar up and realise that 108 pros cannot exist on a 200,000 euro tournament. I know times are hard and everything, but there’s not much to go round in that kind of prize fund.

“We are not talking huge amounts. If a 200,000 tournament becomes a 400,000 tournament, then that’s fantastic. We are not asking every sponsor obviously to put a million euro in – or million dollars as it is this time – but it is just encouraging other sponsors who are doing such a great job.

“Everything has to be viable (for other sponsors) – they have to have a tournament that works for them as well as the players. But, at the moment, I’m afraid 200,000 is just not enough and maybe they’ll want to get a bit closer to the Aramcos of this world, the British (Open) and the Scottish (Open) and things like that.”

Next week will see the Open Championship take place at Royal St George’s in Kent. The champion golfer of the year will take home over $2million. A month later, the AIG Women’s British Open will be held at Carnoustie and the winner will collect $675,000.

Davies added “You’ve just got to be realistic. The Open, it’s an absolute juggernaut and the AIG is a women’s sport juggernaut. But to say we should have parity in prize money I think’s an absolute nonsense.

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“If you’d have said to me as a 21-year-old when I turned pro, one day the (women’s) British Open winner will get $675,000, I would’ve said, ‘Don’t be ridiculous’.

“You can’t compare us to the men’s tour because the way they’ve gone with their prize fund is almost extraordinary. It would seem unsustainable, but they’re sustaining it and I hear it’s getting bigger and better over the next few years.

“So, no, I don’t complain about the top-end events we’ve got – I think that’s brilliant prize money. I just worry for the young European players that they’re just not playing for enough money. And it’s a shame, because a lot of them have to have jobs in the winter – I don’t think the public in general would know that sort of thing – just so they can play the game they love.

“And they’re very good too. If they just had more to play for then they wouldn’t have to have those winter jobs and they’d get better and better.”

Among the British stars in action this week at the Aramco Tour Series are Charley Hull and former AIG Women’s Open winner Georgia Hall. Joining them at an event at which a team tournament and an individual tournament run alongside one another are World top-15 stars Lexi Thompson and Minjee Lee.

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Next month, the Aramco Team Series will move on to Sotogrande in Spain (August 5-7). The third event will be staged in New York (October 14-16) before heading to Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in Saudi Arabia (November 10-12).

“It's encouraging to hear these kind of comments from Laura,” said Golf Saudi CEO, Majed Al Sorour. “Golf Saudi is a champion of women’s sport and we hope our support of the Aramco Team Series events will make a big difference to the sustainability of women’s golf; something which is aligned to the ongoing women’s sporting movement in Saudi as part of Vision 2030.”

For more information, visit aramcoteamseries.com

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