Melbourne to host golf's Australian Opens

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The men's and women's Australian Open will be played together for the first time, with five-time champion Karrie Webb coming out of semi-retirement to chase another title.

The tournaments will be played at The Victoria Golf Club and Kingston Heath on Melbourne's sandbelt from December 1-4.

The courses will share hosting duties for the opening two days and the closing two rounds at Victoria, with full fields of 144 men and 144 women competing for an equal split of $3.4 million prize-money.

In another first, the men's tournament will be co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour - formerly the European Tour - with organisers hoping players will travel to Australia for a two-tournament swing as the Australian PGA Championship takes place a week prior at Royal Queensland Golf Club.

The Victorian Open at 13th Beach was a template, featuring mixed fields since 2012.

"By bringing these two events, the men's and women's, together we are trying to create a great celebration of golf in the week," said Golf Australian chief executive James Sutherland on Friday.

"The men's and women's Opens are the biggest titles in Australian golf and to bring them together on the one stage is something really significant."

Men's winners include Rory McIlroy, Jordan Speith and Adam Scott while the defending champion from 2019 is Australian Matt Jones, with the tournament cancelled for the past two years due to COVID-19.

Korean world No.9 Inbee Park won the last women's edition in 2020 while world No.1 Jin Young Ko claimed the title in 2018.

Webb was the last local winner of the women's Australian Open, triumphing in 2014 at Victoria, but she also won at Kingston Heath in 2008.

"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've played two Australian Opens, one at Vic and one at Kingston Heath and fared pretty well at both, definitely would love to tee it up.

"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.

"Melbourne golf courses are a challenge at the best of time, so we'll see how it goes."

While the Australian Open always attracts the cream of women's golfers, Webb thought the courses could help lure more of the top men.

"I hope both fields are really strong - the Australian guys haven't been home for a couple of years so it'd be really exciting to have them all home," the seven-time major winner 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."

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