- Australian Open
The Australian Golf Union was formed in 1898 and the following year it organized the first official Australian Amateur Championship. However, since 1894 Melbourne Golf Club had organized an event open to all amateurs in Australia (the Victorian Gold Cup). Now the tournament had the authority of a national governing body in control of proceedings.
From 1904 to 1939, the Amateur Championship meeting included a stroke play event, the Australian Open, with the Amateur Champion determined by the leading 8 or 16 amateurs in the Open then engaged in a match play contest on subsequent days. Michael Scott from England (who would later become the oldest player to win The Amateur at Hoylake in 1933) claimed the first Australian Open which was played, appropriately enough, at The Australian in Sydney in 1904.
The early winners of the Australian Open didn’t receive a trophy but that was remedied in 1930 when John Lawrence Baird of Urie, 1st Viscount of Stonehaven and the Governor-General of Australia, presented the Stonehaven Cup to Frank Eyre from New South Wales when he won the event at Metropolitan in Melbourne by seven strokes.
Every year since, the winner’s name is added to the trophy before it’s returned to the Australian Golf Museum in Victoria, with the champion given a replica to keep.
In the modern era, prize money for the winner has risen from the 1,600 dollars that Arnold Palmer picked up for winning in 1966 to the 315,000 dollars that champion Craig Parry pocketed in 2007, though the sums of money involved nowadays are relatively modest compared to similar high-profile competitions elsewhere in the world. Sponsors down the years include well-known global brands such as Quantas, Dunhill, National Panasonic, Heineken and Emirates.
Gary Player has the most number of Australian Open titles, winning seven at six different venues between 1958 and 1974. Jack Nicklaus is next with six victories (1964-1978), followed by two native players from totally different eras, each with five wins: amateur Ivo Whitton from Moonee Ponds in Victoria (1912-1931) and Greg Norman from Mount Isa in Queensland (1980-1996).
In the new millennium, non-native players have won five editions of the Open. To see Tim Clark from South Africa (2008), Rory McIlroy from Northern Ireland (2013) and Jordan Spieth from the USA (2014 and 2016) all triumph wasn’t a big surprise at the time but witnessing Mexican-American player Abraham Ancer blow away an international field by five strokes at The Lakes in 2018 was quite a shock.
Three clubs have hosted half of all the Australian Opens that have been played – The Australian (21), Royal Melbourne (16) and Royal Sydney (15) – with fourteen other clubs sharing more than fifty editions between them. Most of these courses have held the event multiple times but a handful of them have been used as one-off venues: Gailes in 1955, Commonwealth in 1967, Royal Hobart in 1971, The Grand in 2001 and New South Wales in 2009.
Australian Open Top 100 Leaderboard
B-NL Challenge Trophy