The Australian Open has added some extra star-power for its return edition this summer with major winner Hannah Green committing to play.
Green, fresh from contending at this month’s Women’s Open, was unveiled in Melbourne on Monday as the event’s latest coup.
The 25-year-old is one of only four Australian women to have won a major, after claiming the 2019 PGA Championship, and returns home after a strong year, albeit with the disappointment of a weekend fadeout at the Women’s Open.
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Green has six top-10 finishes this year, including a top-five at the women’s PGA Championship, while she was also on track for a strong result in at Muirfield until she was derailed by a seven-over final two rounds.
With the major final of the season in the books, the Australian is looking to the months ahead, which will include returning home for a historic edition of the Australian Open.
Having not been held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the showpiece event returns with the men, women, and all-abilities tournaments being held concurrently.
It is the first national Open worldwide to combine men’s and women’s fields, while the prize money for the two events is the same; $1.7 million AUD each.
“When I heard that the men’s and women’s Opens were coming together for the first time, I knew that I wanted to be there,” said Green, who won the mixed gender TPS Murray River, and the Vic Open, on her last visit.
“We’ve experienced this kind of concept with men and women playing together on the same courses at the same time … and to have it in place for the first time at a national Open is going to be something special.”
High profile Australians committing to return for the summer are increasing by the week after Lucas Herbert and Min Woo Lee recently confirmed they would also be playing.
World No.49 Herbert is down to play both the Australian Open, held at Victoria Golf Club and Kingston Heath on December 1-4, and the Australian PGA Championship at Royal Queensland the week prior.
Lee – now ranked 66th in the world and with top-30 finishes at three of this year’s majors – will play at the latter, which is co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour.
Meanwhile, Aussie golf fans are still waiting to hear if reigning Open Championship winner Cameron Smith will also return, having not played competitively in his home country since December 2019.
Smith confirmed last month that he will have an extended stay in Australia this summer to spend time with his family and friends after three years of separation.
But whether that stay will include playing at either the Australian Open, or the Australian PGA Championship – he’s previously won the latter twice – is unclear.
Also unclear is his next career moves after the FedEx Cup playoffs, having been linked to Greg Norman’s Saudi-backed LIV Golf series — claims that he hasn’t denied.
smith told Fox Sports after winning the Claret Jug that his plan is to play in both Australian events, but it is not his priority.
“I think my priority during those weeks is going to be to catch up with family and friends. I’ll probably stay a little bit after into Christmas and just really have a good time,” he told Fox Sports.
“I’m looking forward to that. You really have no idea. It’s been three years since I’ve been at home and just to see some familiar faces will be so nice.”
Meanwhile, another big-name Aussie, Marc Leishman, confirmed to foxsports.com.au last month that he was also eager to return to these shores, although no deal has been confirmed.