Saudi Arabia to host first-ever women's tournament in March 2020

The Ladies European Tour (LET) event in Saudi Arabia will carry a winning purse of $1 million, with 108 women set to participate. Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia will host its first ever golf tournament for women in March 2020 at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in Jeddah.

The Ladies European Tour (LET) event will be staged between March 19-22 in collaboration with Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation and will carry a winning purse of $1 million, with 108 professionals set to participate.

"Confirmation of adding Saudi Arabia to our schedule for 2020 is an exciting prospect... and having seen the quality of the event staging for the Saudi International, I am sure this will be a fantastic experience for our players," LET CEO Alexandra Armas said in a statement.

Women's rights are a contentious issue in Saudi Arabia, one of the world's most gender-segregated nations.

Ambassadors to promote the sport in the country include Britain's Carly Booth, Amy Boulden and Rachel Drummond, and Sweden's Camilla Lennarth and Isabella Deilert.

The country has some of the world's strictest social rules but has been gradually chipping away at a guardianship system which requires all women to have a male relative's approval for important decisions.

This week Saudi Arabia announced it was ending entrances to restaurants segregated by sex.

The inaugural Saudi International men's event was held earlier this year. Tiger Woods declined a spot in the 2019 event -- won by Dustin Johnson -- before the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018. The Washington Post writer, who was based in the United States at the time and had been critical of Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkish officials said.

That led to heavy criticism of the European Tour for going on with the event, which is being played for a second time, Jan. 30-Feb. 2. Rory McIlroy also turned down an offer to play in the 2019 event. Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Tony Finau and Henrik Stenson have confirmed that they will compete at the tournament.