CNN  — 

As players return to Saudi Arabia for the Saudi Ladies International this week, the tournament’s organizers are hoping it can have a more long-lasting impact.

The tournament returns to Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City this Thursday after it made history last year as the first professional women’s sporting event to be staged in Saudi Arabia.

With one of the richest prizes on the Ladies European Tour (LET) schedule – a $1 million USD prize fund – it has quickly become one of the more highly desired titles.

The importance of having a boundary breaking tournament with a big prize pot is not lost on LET CEO, Alex Armas.

“I think it’s hugely important because across the globe, we need to get the population more active and involved in sports,” Armas said.

A Saudi man watches a golfer compete in the Saudi Ladies International golf tournament on November 15, 2020.

“I think the best way to do that is, obviously, through live sports on TV and for people to be able to become inspired by these athletes and look up to them as role models. Having so many sporting events of the quality that Saudi is bringing to the Kingdom will be hugely important to growing participation in various sports. The amount of people that signed up for the Ladies First Club and the amount of positive feedback was immense.”

A whole host of superstar players have been confirmed as playing at this week’s competition, alongside defending champion Emily Kristine Pedersen.

Two-time major-winner Lydia Ko has been confirmed, as well as fellow major-winners Georgia Hall, Anna Nordqvist, and Laura Davies.

While the singles event starts this Thursday, a Saudi double-header will be concluded at the team event on Wednesday, November 10.

The second of two $1 million LET tournaments taking place in the space of nine days, part of the Aramco Team Series which has taken place across the world, has aimed to address inequality in women’s golf, according to the LET.

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Pedersen celebrates with the trophy after winning the 2020 Saudi Ladies International.

“There is a challenge of women’s sport,” said Armas. “We don’t get the coverage of the men, but there is a shift in that, and the equality movement and the corporate companies are realizing there is an imbalance.

“We need to showcase them and their stories and incredible journeys. We still have a long way to go. People don’t realize what good athletes these women are, and if they don’t get to see that, they don’t understand that. They can compete. They are as good athletes as the men.”