- Women's Australian Open
Women's Australian Open
The Women’s Australian Open is a stroke play tournament organized by Golf Australia and the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour. It’s also co-sanctioned by both the Ladies European Tour and the US-based LPGA Tour. The first Open took place in 1974 – two years after the formation of the ALPG – as a 54-hole event at Victoria Golf Club, with Chako Higuchi from Japan winning by three strokes from Canadian Sandra Post and Americans Pat Bradley and Judy Rankin.
The inaugural contest was sponsored by Wills, the British tobacco company, but the following four editions had Qantas as the title sponsor until the tournament then entered an elongated fifteen-year hibernation period as interest in the female professional game appeared to simply just vanish into an antipodean black hole between 1979 and 1993.
Thankfully, normal service resumed with a 72-hole event in 1994 at Royal Adelaide Golf Club when Annika Sörenstam won her very first professional competition by a 5-stroke margin against her nearest rival. The following year, the championship moved to Yarra Yarra Golf Club outside Melbourne, where it was won by another Swede, Liselotte Neumann. The Open then remained at that venue for a further six editions before moving on to Terry Hills Golf & Country Club in New South Wales in 2003.
The tournament has had a few different sponsors in the new millennium, starting with an insurance firm then an investment company but the Japanese non-profit organization International Sports Promotion Society (ISPS) Handa – which promotes the participation of the visually disabled in golf – has been the title sponsor since 2011.
Players compete annually for the Patricia Bridges Bowl, named in honour of the administrator who worked tirelessly behind the scenes for many years on behalf of women’s golf in her home country and around the world. Mrs Bridges was first appointed to the Australian Ladies’ Golf Union in 1964 and became a selector in 1969, captaining several ALGU teams on foreign golf trips. She was elected president of the ALGU on three occasions and was awarded the OBE in 1981 for “services to golf and the community”. Sadly, she passed away in 2017, aged 95.
Australian success in the event had been limited to only two victories (Jan Stephenson at Manly in 1977 and Jane Crafter at Yarra Yarra in 1997) before Karrie Webb’s first Women’s Open in 2000. Fourteen years later, after lifting the silverware at Victoria Golf Club, she became the record holder with five winner’s medals. The only other multiple winners are Laura Davies from England (2004, 2009) and Yani Tseng from Taiwan (2010, 2011).
Yarra Yarra has held seven Women’s Opens, followed by Royal Adelaide and Victoria, each with three. Four clubs have each hosted the championship twice: Commonwealth, Grange, Manly and Royal Melbourne.
Women's Australian Open Top 100 Leaderboard