Date: February 23, 2016
Author: Martin Blake

Maybe our best-ever Open, says Pitt


Golf Australia has hailed the 2016 ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open as one of the best ever.

GA's chief executive Stephen Pitt lauded Adelaide and its people for the way they embraced the tournament after many years of absence.

The Women's Open was taken to Adelaide on a three-year deal involving the city's sandbelt clubs, the State Government of South Australia and Golf Australia late last year.

The tournament had not been played in the city since 1994.

But there is no doubt that the return of world class women's golf to Adelaide caused excitement in the city. More than 31,000 people attended the four days of the tournament, up to 15,000 more than were expected.

Pitt said: "I think clearly it was a landmark event for us last week. The 2016 ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open was clearly one of the best we've ever had. All the people who were there — the players, media, sponsors, fans from interstate — were struck by the beauty and the vibrancy of the city of Adelaide, and I can't speak highly enough about the way the government, the clubs, the sponsors, and all the local institutions really embraced the event and helped us create something that was magnificent. We're really confident of an even better event in 2017.''

The Open swings to Royal Adelaide in 2017, and then Kooyonga in 2018 before the agreement is revisited, and Pitt has said that the tournament is likely to remain in the city for the longer term, after mostly being played in Melbourne over the past decade. The Grange, host of this year's Open, has already indicated that it would love to host the event again in 2019.

Japan's Haru Nomura won the $US1.3 million tournament with a withering final-round 65, holding off world No. 1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand, and Australia's world golf hall-of-famer Karrie Webb.