SYDNEY (Reuters) – The next editions of the men’s and women’s Australian Open will be held together on two courses in the Melbourne Sandbelt in early December, Golf Australia said on Friday.
The Victoria Golf Club and Kingston Heath Golf Club will share hosting duties for the first two days with the former the sole venue at the weekend.
Fields will be set at 144 players for both tournaments and the prize fund of A$3.4 million ($2.41 million) would be shared equally between the men and women, organisers added.
“This truly is a coup for Australian golf,” Golf Australia chief executive James Sutherland said in a news release.
“It presents a great opportunity for the game and will take the two Open championships to another level.”
The Australian Open, which was started in 1904 and counts the likes of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Peter Thomson among its former winners, will be co-sanctioned by the European Tour for the first time.
More recent winners included former world number ones Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott but the difficulties with getting marquee names to travel down to Australia were compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The last two editions were cancelled because of the global health crisis, the first time the tournament had not been contested outside the two World Wars.
The year’s tournament, which will take place from Dec. 1-4, will mark a return to Melbourne for the first time in two decades.
The Women’s Australian Open, first played in 1974, was last held in Adelaide in 2020, when former world number one Inbee Park won the title.
($1 = 1.4083 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Richard Pullin)