The Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Golf Open (FBMLO) has been moved from its traditional November slot to January 10-12, it was confirmed on Tuesday.
From being one of the closing four-round events on the Ladies European Tour (LET), it will now be a three-round season-opener not only for the LET but also the entire Abu Dhabi golfing season.
The event will also benefit from a new finale — the fourth hosting of the Gary Player Invitational pro-celebrity tournament — which will take place on January 13, the day after the ladies tournament. Both will continue to be played at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi.
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, one of the opening events in the men’s European Tour season, will then wrap up a fortnight of world-class golf in the capital from January 16-19.
Along with a new date, the FBM Ladies Open will be the first tour-sanctioned, entirely pro-am tournament format to be held in the UAE. Under this new format, 56 professional golfers will join with 56 amateurs to form team pairings. While all teams will compete on Day One and Two of the tournament, Day Three will see only the top 15 teams advance — but the top LET professionals within that 15 will still contest for the individual title.
“The game of golf continues to evolve globally and given Abu Dhabi’s heritage of innovation in sport, we are continuously seeking ways to encourage and engage both sport fans and participants while at the same time, ensuring the longevity of our events,” said Aref Al Awani, general secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council.
The new date and format means that the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open will now offer an unparalleled experience for amateur golfers and a novel new tournament for the professionals. The event will also be a spectacular celebration of golf, with the Gary Player Invitational and the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship scheduled in close proximity. Aside from the operational efficiencies there are many cross promotional opportunities that will appeal to more fans of the game than ever before.
These changes echo similar adjustments made to the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic, which used to end the LET season as a four-round event in December, but now won’t be held this year, instead moving to May as a three-round part pro-am, part day-night event called the Moonlight Classic.
Professionals will play the first round during the day on May 1 before being introduced to amateurs who they will then play alongside over the next two rounds in the day-night format — believed to be the first of its kind.
“Our partners and sponsors who are the lifeblood of our tournament kept saying they loved the ladies’ event, but the highlight for them was the pre-tournament pro-am and we were having trouble getting people to come to hospitality during the main event, so we came up with this,” said tournament director David Spencer.
The Abu Dhabi ladies event has only had two editions, next year will be the third, while next year’s Dubai equivalent will be the 13th staging.