New world No.1 Lydia Ko will steal the headlines, but there are plenty of other reasons to be excited about the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open field – about six of the world’s top 12 reasons, to be precise.
Ko became the youngest ever world No.1 – male or female – at the weekend aged just 17 years, nine months and seven days and will, remarkably, play her fifth Australian Open.
Her weekend conqueror in Florida, good mate and Korean star Na Yeon Choi, surged five places on the Rolex World Rankings to No.12. Two more Koreans – crowd favourite and joint 2012 Royal Melbourne runner-up So Yeon Ryu (No.7) and Kyu-Jung Baek (No.11) are among the throng of stars flocking to the Composite Course.
World No.4 Shanshan Feng, of China, has become one of world golf’s most consistent stars and big-time performers.
And then there’s No.9 Karrie Webb, an Australian marvel who has already won five national championships and will defend the Patricia Bridges Bowl she won at Victoria Golf Club.
Tournament director Trevor Herden said there were no fewer than 55 of the top 80 from last year’s LPGA Tour money list on show in Melbourne.
“It’s a real testament to what the Open has come to mean to so many around the world that we can attract such quality and depth,” Herden said.
“We are one of only four national Open championships (US, British and Canadian) on the LPGA Tour’s schedule and it definitely adds to the lustre of the tournament and its significance.
“It really just continues to grow and forge its own place on the national sporting calendar – and that’s a remarkable turnaround considering we didn’t even have the tournament as recently as 2006.
“And who knows where it might sit in the world schedule in years to come?”
For the full field, check http://www.golf.org.au/site/_content/document/00021657-source.pdf