Seven-time Major champion Karrie Webb has confirmed she will be “dusting the clubs” for this year’s Australian Open, with the men’s and women’s tournaments joining forces in a world first.
The event, which will be played on Melbourne’s famous sandbelt in early December, will see men and women compete for an equal split in the prize pool, which will be a minimum of $3.4 million. It is the first time that a national open has played the men’s and women’s events on the same course at the same time.
Victoria Golf Club will serve as the host venue, with Kingston Heath also being used on the first two days of the tournament.
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Webb has won the tournament a record five times, with his two most recent victories coming on the courses that will host this year’s event.
“I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to play at both of those courses, I’ve played the Australian Open at Vic(toria) and Kingston Heath and done pretty well at both,” she said. .
“(My game is) dustier than normal, I played a tournament in Florida in January and plan to play a few this summer in the US, so it won’t be too far away.
“Melbourne’s golf courses are a challenge at the best of times, so we’ll see how it goes.”
For the first time, the men’s tournament will be co-sanctioned with the European Tour, increasing the likelihood of Golf Australia attracting big names for the event.
“It really is a blow for Australian golf – it represents a great opportunity for the game and will take both Open Championships to another level,” said Golf Australia boss James Sutherland.
“We’ve seen the success of the Vic Open in this format, and more recently the Webex Players Series where men and women play for the same title.
“We are incredibly thrilled to be able to make this announcement.”
The men’s tournament has a checkered history, counting legends such as Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tom Watson among its past winners.
Sutherland pointed out that Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy have both won the event for the past decade, while the current top three players in the women’s game, Jin Young, Nelly Korda and Lydia Ko, have all won the title. ‘Australian Open.
He noted that the new format will still preserve the history of both tournaments.
“The men are still playing for their own title at the Australian Open for the Stonehaven Cup, and the women for the Patricia Bridges Bowl. Both trophies have been won by some of the best golfers to play this game,” he said. -he declares.
“We have great aspirations for this event. This new format will be the springboard for a great celebration of golf.”
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