Date: September 01, 2009

Women set to sparkle at Commonwealth

Melbourne s world class sporting calendar has been further bolstered by securing the Women’s Australian Open Golf tournament for a further two years. Sports Minister James Merlino today joined Golf Australia CEO Stephen Pitt and Victorian golfer Stacey Keating at Federation Square to announce the premier women’s golf event would call Melbourne home until 2011. Melbourne continues to build on it status as the sporting capital of the world by attracting the best sporting and major events to our jam-packed sporting calendar, Mr Merlino said. Women’s golf is entering a new era, and the Brumby Labor Government is proud to support an event that is leading the way in boosting the reputation of the sport not only in Australia but around the world. Mr Merlino said reigning champion and one-time US Women’s Open winner Laura Davies would return to defend her title in 2010 at the Commonwealth Golf Club in Oakleigh South from 11-14 February. The Women’s Australian Open will build on Melbourne s reputation as a premier golfing destination with next year s event to be held in the heart of our city s internationally-renowned sand-belt region, he said. The Open adds to the impressive line-up of major golfing events making their way to Melbourne including the 2009 Australian Masters in November featuring Tiger Woods and Geoff Ogilvy, as well as golf’s blue ribbon event, The Presidents Cup, staged at Royal Melbourne in 2011. Securing these events not only cements our status as the sporting capital of the world, but also helps establish Victoria s reputation as a major centre for international golf, Mr Merlino said. Last year alone over 60,000 international golf visitors visited Victoria, injecting around $242 million into the economy and we now expect to see even more international guests to our world class golf events. First held as the Ladies Australian Open Championship in 1974, the Open has been won by some of the world s best ladies golfers including Jan Stephenson, Annika Sorenstam, Jane Crafter and Australia s own, Karrie Webb. Mr Pitt said he was looking forward to continuing the success of the Women’s Australian Open at Melbourne s internationally renowned sand-belt. Commonwealth Golf Club will be a wonderful addition to the rich history of the championship and with our Australian women continuing to excel overseas, the competition will be stronger than ever, Mr Pitt said. Having Stacey Keating with us today is an example of the success that Golf Australia has enjoyed in developing future stars in women’s golf. More women are taking up the game than ever before and we now have three Australian women in the Top 25 players in the world.