Date: January 24, 2018
Author: Mark Hayes

Ko, Henderson add to Adelaide star power

Two of the world’s most popular players have confirmed they’ll be playing at Adelaide’s Kooyonga Golf Club next month.

Long-time world No.1 Lydia Ko and Canadian star Brooke Henderson have both committed to the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, the third year in a row both have played in South Australia for the co-sanctioned LPGA Tour event.

“Australia is a place where there’s been a lot of great memories and cool moments in my career,” Ko said.

“It’s that time of year you want to set a good mode and get momentum going into the season … and I feel like the Australian people have taken me in as one of their own, so I really felt huge support there and it’s a tournament where I really want to do well.

“It’s a great golfing community … I love playing in front of the fans in Adelaide.

“The last two events we’ve played (there) have been great – and I heard Kooyonga is a nice track, too.”

Henderson, too, has become a warm favourite among fans in South Australia with her power hitting and engaging nature an equal lure for fans.

The Canadian world No.14, who has reached as high as No.2 in the past two tumultuous seasons on the Rolex rankings, is, like Ko, also a fan of the South Australian leg of the global tour.

“To stay right in Glenelg, we walk the beach a couple of nights, then all the shops and restaurants – it’s really cool to be able to experience that,” the 20-year-old said.

“Most of the time on tour you are just in an isolated hotel and drive to the golf course, whereas here you feel like you are part of Australia and feel like you are part of the atmosphere – I can’t wait to get back down and play in Adelaide again.”

Ko, currently world No.10, concurred on the eve of, remarkably, her eighth ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open appearance at age 20.

“There’s lots of good food and ice cream around Glenelg and it’s a really easy spot for us to walk to the beach and visit restaurants, just for it to all be there, it’s a great spot.”

South Australian Tourism Minister Leon Bignell was delighted with the pair’s addition to the field.

“It’s fantastic to see high-ranked players including Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson launching their season here in Adelaide at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open,” he said.

“The State Government is a huge supporter of women’s sport at all levels, from grassroots through to the elite, so it’s really exciting to see some of golf’s top female players here in South Australia.

“Hosting major events such as the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open continues to build our reputation as a leading sporting and tourism destination and I’m sure we’ll see some exceptional results at Kooyonga next month.”

Tournament director Trevor Herden said the addition of Ko and Henderson was great news on the back of defending champion Ha Na Jang’s return and earlier confirmation of her fellow Korean So Yeon Ryu, who spent much of 2017 as world No.1.

“In those four players, we have arguably the strongest collection of fan favourites anywhere in golf,” he said.

“All four women obviously play great golf, but among their strongest assets is their ability to engage the fans. We saw that in spades with Ha Na last year when she stormed home, and Brooke and Lydia have both thrilled the big Adelaide crowds in the past two years.

“It’s a very exciting field we’re bringing together.”