Melbourne: The men's and women's Australian Open golf tournaments are set to be played at the same time on two sandbelt courses in southeast Melbourne in December.
And five-time winner Karrie Webb says she might even come out of semi-retirement to play in it.
Golf Australia said Friday the marquee domestic events will be played Dec. 1-4 with Victoria Golf Club as the primary course and nearby Kingston Heath also hosting play on the first two days.
The men’s event will headline the PGA Tour of Australasia while the women’s event will be sanctioned by the WPGA Tour of Australasia.
The men’s event will also be sanctioned by the European tour. The Australian PGA tournament scheduled to be held the week before at Royal Queensland in Brisbane is also co-sanctioned by the European tour.
Field sizes of 144 men and 144 women will compete for an equal split of the minimum 3.4 million Australian dollars ($2.4 million) in prize money.
The tournament will see the men and women play in alternate groups, using both Victoria and Kingston Heath for the opening two rounds and Victoria only on the weekend.
''This truly is a coup for Australian golf — it presents a great opportunity for the game and will take the two open championships to another level,'' Golf Australia chief executive James Sutherland said.
Inbee Park won the last women’s edition of the Australian Open in 2020 at Royal Adelaide.
Webb was the last local winner in 2014 at Victoria, but she also won at Kingston Heath in 2008. And two of her other three wins have come at Yarra Yarra, also on the sandbelt.
''At this stage I plan to dust off the clubs — I wouldn't miss an opportunity to play both of these courses,'' Webb said on Friday. ''I did play a tournament in Florida in January and plan to play a couple in the summer over in the States, so my form won’t be too far away.'' Webb said she hoped the courses might help attract more of the top men.
''The Australian guys haven’t been home for a couple of years so it'd be really exciting to have them all home,” Webb said. ''When you announce the Australian Open at two great venues like this I think players show up for sure.
''Exposure-wise when it’s a men’s group and a women’s group back to back, playing on the same golf course, I think it’s probably more beneficial for the women’s game because people will see just how good we really are.''