Jutanugarn locks in Royal Adelaide

Ariya Jutanugarn
Ariya Jutanugarn lit up world golf in 2016. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

The hottest player in world golf in 2016 has signed to play the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

Thai superstar Ariya Jutanugarn soared all the way to No.2 in the Rolex Rankings last year on the back of a proflic and record-setting season.

And she’ll now pick up the race for the world No.1 tag with incumbent Lydia Ko at Royal Adelaide Golf Club from February 16-19.

Jutanugarn, whose sister Moriya will also play in South Australia, was a winner of an incredible five events on the 2016 LPGA Tour, including her first major at the Women’s British Open.

She also won an LPGA record three consecutive events in May to ignite her run to the year-long Race to the CME Globe title and pushing her within reach of Ko at the top of women’s golf.

Tournament director Trevor Herden was ecstatic with the sisters’ decision to return to Australia for the first time since 2015, when Ariya was third behind Ko at Royal Melbourne.

“We have always admired the way both Ariya and Moriya played, but to see Ariya take such a massive step forward last year was testament to her great talent,” Herden said.

“Nobody in world golf, men’s or women’s, was hotter than Ariya last year and we are delighted to have her commit to South Australia.

“She plays attacking golf and we’re sure that all the fans who come to Royal Adelaide to watch her play will be in for a treat.

“Her commitment really underlines the increasing importance of the Women’s Australian Open and will heighten the global focus on South Australia in February.”

The announcement comes on the heels of the signatures of Ko and defending champion Haru Nomura to return to Adelaide after their shootout at The Grange last year.

They will all join top-ranked Australian contingent Minjee Lee, five-time champ Karrie Webb and Su Oh as key parts of South Australia’s events and festivals throughout summer.

Acting Minister for Tourism Susan Close said the tournament continued to grow.

“The ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open is one of the nation’s premier female sporting events, set in the beautiful surrounds of the world-renowned Royal Adelaide Golf Club. In 2017 the tournament brings together the finest international players and we are delighted to welcome Ariya Jutanugarn to the field,” Dr Close said.

“I encourage golf fans to come to Adelaide and enjoy the atmosphere of this world-class international sporting event in South Australia. Our state was recently named one of Lonely Planet’s must-see regions for 2017 and there’s never been a better time to visit.

“Women’s sport is vitally important to the State Government.  As well as the Women’s Australian Open, we have a growing list of incredible events including the women’s T20 Cricket, the Santos Women’s Tour and the International Netball Quad Series.”

With the Women’s Australian Open part of a calendar including the Santos Tour Down Under and Clipsal 500 Adelaide to the Fringe, Adelaide Festival and WOMADelaide, South Australia was named Best Events State at the 2016 Australian Event Awards, the second year running it has won the accolade.

Tickets are available on line at Ticketek at http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/show.aspx?sh=GOLFAUS17

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