LPGA adds Australian Open to 2012 schedule


The LPGA is adding the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open to its schedule next year.

The LPGA will join the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Association in sanctioning the event Feb. 9-12 at Royal Melbourne Golf Club, the same site that will host the Presidents Cup next month. The Women's Australian Open will be played as a 72-hole, full-field event with a $1.1 million purse.

The event was co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour this year, but the LET won't be sanctioning it next year. An LPGA official said Wednesday that the tour is expecting as many as 100 of its LPGA members will have access to the 150-player field.

The Women’s Australian Open will open a three-week LPGA swing through the Asia Pacific region with stops at the Honda LPGA Thailand and HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore following. The new relationship marks a return to Australia for the LPGA. In 1997-2000, the LPGA co-sanctioned the Australian Ladies Masters, with Karrie Webb winning in ’98,’99 and ’00.

“The ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open works perfectly for our 2012 LPGA Tour schedule as Australia will lead right into the Honda LPGA Thailand and HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement.

World No. 1 Yani Tseng says she’s eager to return to Australia.

“Australia is one of my favorite places in the world,” Tseng said in a statement. “I won the Australian Open last year and the attendance was great. I’m really excited to go back and defend my title as an LPGA Tournament.”

The event will move to Royal Canberra Golf Club in 2013.