Two past winners including the defending men’s champion have added their names to the high quality field for the ISPS HANDA Australian Open in Melbourne this December.
All-time great Australian golfer and major-winner Geoff Ogilvy, winner of the 2010 Open at The Lakes in Sydney, and the 2019 and 2017 national champion Matt Jones have confirmed that they will tee it up at Victoria Golf Club and Kingston Heath Golf Club from 1-4 December.
Jones’ return to defend the championship he won in Sydney in 2019 comes three years after his coronation at The Australian Golf Club in 2019.
They join world No. 3 and 2022 Open Champion Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman, Lucas Herbert, Cam Davis, Kiwi Ryan Fox, World Golf Hall of Famer Karrie Webb and another major winner in Hannah Green among the first cluster of players to commit to the event in Melbourne, with more announcements to follow over the next few weeks.
Jones and Ogilvy will be taking part in an Australian Open with a big difference this time around, with men, women and All Abilities players competing with equal billing throughout the week, on the same courses at the same time.
It is the first time that a national Open anywhere in the world has featured men and women concurrently.
Jones is still playing superb golf; he was third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and runner-up in the Valero Texas Open on the United States PGA Tour this season, and he won the Honda Classic in Florida in 2021. His career prizemoney total in more than $US17 million.
Jones, 42, has won two Australian Opens, a feat managed by only a handful of men over the history of an event that dates to 1904.
Both triumphs came at his beloved second home at The Australian, where he played much of his early golf in Sydney before heading off as a young man to college in the United States, then turning professional.
He won the 2015 Open a shot ahead of Adam Scott and Jordan Spieth, then again in 2019 narrowly beating Louis Oosthuizen, before Covid-enforced cancellations meant that he could not return to defend his title. Until now, that is.
“It gives me a lot of pleasure to know that I can come back and defend,” said Jones.
“It’s been a while, that’s for sure, but I can’t wait to get there. Everyone’s aware of how great the Melbourne sandbelt courses are and that’s always a challenge for any player as well as a treat.
“Winning two national Opens is one of the things that I’m most proud of in my career but quite frankly three would be even better.”
Golf Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland said the Australian Open promised to be a major highlight for golf fans in 2022.
“It’s been almost three years since the Open was played because of the pandemic, and we all know how tough that’s been. I’m confident that with the new format of the Open, the incredibly good quality of the venues being world class golf courses, and the genuine brilliance of players like Cameron Smith, Cameron Davis, Hannah Green, Lucas Herbert, Matt Jones, Geoff Ogilvy and others who we’ll announce in good time, this is going to be something very special.”
Ogilvy, the 2006 US Open champion and a winner of tournaments all around the world, has returned home to live in Australia and grew up playing much of his early golf at Victoria Golf Club, where he is a member.
“I’m excited to play an Australian Open again,” he said. “Especially to have the chance to play at my home course, and at Kingston Heath as well, that’s an opportunity I’m not going to miss.”
The 2022 ISPS HANDA Australian Open is a tournament in three parts, with the men’s event co-sanctioned by the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and the DP World Tour, the women’s event featuring some of the world’s top stars and sanctioned by the WPGA Tour, and the Australian All Abilities Championship for golfers with a disability featuring 12 of the best in the world.
Golf Australia has made the changes to the format to promote golf as an inclusive and fun activity and to enhance interest in the event after two years of absence caused by the pandemic and travel restrictions.
The first two days of competition will be played at both Victoria and Kingston Heath while the final two days are at Victoria only.
Both courses are ranked among the best in the world.
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