The world, including its No.1 player, is coming to Adelaide.
On a banner day for the 2019 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, world No.1 Ariya Jutanugarn, of Thailand, has committed to play in South Australia.
She will be joined at The Grange Golf Club from February 14-17 by her sister Moriya, herself the world No.20. Australian No.1 and world No.6 Minjee Lee [pictured] has also agreed to resume her challenge for a first Patricia Bridges Bowl.
And capping a big day for women’s sport in South Australia, title sponsor ISPS Handa has also renewed its outstanding commitment to the national championship for a 10th consecutive year.
Jutanugarn, the LPGA Tour player of the year, moneylist winner and CME Globe champion among a host of stunning achievements in 2018, will play her fifth Women’s Australian Open, but for the first time at The Grange.
The ever-smiling Thai, still just 23, is a dual Major champion, including this year’s US Women’s Open as one of her three wins. Remarkably, she also finished in the top 10 in 16 of her 27 LPGA Tour starts in 2018, highlighting her consistency.
“It has been a great year. I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved and happy to have been competitive in so many tournaments,” Jutanugarn said.
“I’ve always enjoyed coming to Australia to play and I’ve had a great time in Adelaide the past couple of years, so I can’t wait to come back in February and get my 2019 season started. I have been close a couple of times in Australia, but haven’t managed a win there yet, so hopefully next year. I know I love the courses I’ve seen so far in Adelaide, so I’ll be trying hard.”
Jutanugarn missed the cut on her Women’s Australian Open debut in 2014, but has since been a model of consistency. She was third in 2015 before missing 2016, then shared third at Royal Adelaide and shared seventh at Kooyonga in Adelaide the past two seasons.
Lee, of Perth, is always a huge hit among Aussie fans desperate to see the title return to local hands for the first time since Karrie Webb in 2014. She, too, had an incredible LPGA Tour season with 13 top-10 finishes – secondly only to Jutanugarn – and was second in the CME Globe standings heading into the Tour Championship in November. And all that on top of a win and a runner-up finish at the Vic Open and Canberra Classic, respectively, earlier this year.
Remarkably, still aged just 22, Lee will play her eighth Women’s Australian Open. After finishing T-11 in her final year as an amateur in 2014, the Royal Fremantle member has three times finished in the top 10, including shares of third and fifth the past two years in South Australia.
“I’ve come close a couple of times, so hopefully in February I can take that next step,” Lee said. “It’s always a huge thrill to play in front of the home crowds and we have had enormous support here in Adelaide the past three years.
“I’ve had a solid 2018, so I’m really excited about starting 2019 with a bang at The Grange.”