Tickets have gone on sale for the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, as Australia’s first female golf Olympians join the world’s best player Lydia Ko and defending champion Haru Nomura among those confirmed to play in the 2017 championship in Adelaide.
Having thrilled Australia wearing the green and gold at Rio where they were in medal calculations until the dying holes, Minjee Lee and Su Oh will play at The Royal Adelaide Golf Club from February 16-19.
The 20-year-olds, each returning from fantastic seasons on the LPGA Tour, have already played several national championships despite their tender years with Oh having played without missing since 2009.
Both Golf Australia rookie squad members finished in the top 20 at The Grange earlier this year, but are keen to take the next step in February.
“To win an Australian Open would be huge,” said world No.16 Lee, who won twice on the LPGA Tour this season.
“It was fantastic to have so much support in Adelaide and see the tournament really grow this year and if we can put ourselves in the final couple of groups on Sunday next year, I think it would be brilliant to have that backing behind us.”
Oh finished a creditable 50th on the LPGA’s money list in her rookie season that featured two top-10 finishes, including being runner-up at the Kingsmill Championship.
“The Australian Open was the making of my whole year. I had one chance to improve my LPGA ranking and was fortunate enough to make the most of it,” Oh said.
“I can’t wait to get back to South Australia and play Royal Adelaide for the first time. I’ve heard so much about the course and I’m sure it will be one of the best we play all year.
“The talent the LPGA Tour brings to Adelaide is enormous, but I’m hopeful we can get an Australian name on the Patricia Bridges Bowl this time around.”
Golf Australia chief executive Stephen Pitt said securing the signatures of such key players so early was another real boon for all parties involved.
“We’ve watched Minjee and Su come through the ranks as outstanding amateurs and now they’re taking it to the world as professionals, we couldn’t be prouder,” Pitt said.
“They’re both great additions to any field but particularly at home, we hope they’ll both be in contention come Sunday – that would be a huge thrill for them and the big crowds we hope to see at Royal Adelaide.”
South Australian Minister for Tourism Leon Bignell was excited that the field was beginning to take shape.
"I encourage golf fans to come to Adelaide and enjoy the atmosphere of this world-class international sporting event in South Australia," he said.
"Our state was recently named one of Lonely Planet’s must-see regions for 2017 and there’s never been a better time to visit.
"Women’s sport is vitally important to the state government. As well as the Women’s Australian Open, we have a growing list of incredible events including the Women’s T20 Cricket, the Santos Women’s Tour and the International Netball Quad Series."