25 Aug 2022 | Professional golf |

Smith in for Melbourne, Buhai makes it a pair of Open winners for ISPS HANDA Australian Open

by Australian Golf Media

Cameron Smith.

The 150th Open champion Cameron Smith is coming home to his adoring fans this summer, and he will be joined at Victoria and Kingston Heath Golf Clubs by AIG Women’s Open champion Ashleigh Buhai for the ISPS HANDA Australian Open from December 1-4. World No. 2 Smith is enjoying a career-best year having won the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in January and THE PLAYERS Championship in March before his major breakthrough at St Andrews last month.

“I’ve had an unbelievable year and to be coming home to play tournaments is the icing on the cake,” Smith said. “I’m so excited to see friends and family again. Some of them I haven’t seen for years now and once I get to the golf course, I’ve got my eye on some more trophies. “It will be my first time playing in Melbourne since the 2019 Presidents Cup which was one of the best experiences I’ve had in golf. The crowds were incredible that week and I’m looking forward to a similar atmosphere at Victoria and Kingston Heath.” Smith joins his good mate Marc Leishman and PGA Tour winner Lucas Herbert as Australian stars to commit to the first national open to feature men’s, women’s and All Abilities events playing for equal prize money of minimum $3.4 million. Smith, 29, is intent on capping off his unforgettable 2022 with more silverware on Australian soil and he will also tee it up at the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship at Royal Queensland from November 24-27.

Buhai, 33, is the latest high-profile international to confirm a place in the tournament - after New Zealand’s top-ranked men’s golfer Ryan Fox kicked off the international signings last week - and the South African’s commitment is a major coup. Earlier in the month she won her first major on the fourth playoff hole at Muirfield and, like Smith, she is eager to top off her stellar year down under. “I love coming to Australia and playing on some of the best golf courses in the world,” Buhai said. “I played at Victoria Golf Club in the Women’s Australian Open in 2014 and, even though I missed the cut, I know it’s a fantastic venue and Melbourne is a great place. If I can add another trophy to my collection that would be a great way to end an already very special year. Golf Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland said securing Smith and Buhai was a massive boost to both the ISPS HANDA Australian Open and Australian golf. “Over the last few years Australians golf fans have loved following the rise of Cameron Smith,” Sutherland said. “He delights fans of all ages and even young kids have been inspired by him, turning up to golf sporting mullets and dreaming of playing like him. “For Australian golf fans this is a great opportunity to come and watch Cameron – and to recognise his brilliant achievements, including his most recent Open Championship victory. Announcing the two recent winners of the men’s and women’s Open Championship in one day is a sign of the star-studded fields that are building for the Australian Open.   “Ashleigh Buhai is one of those stars and her commitment to the event highlights how well-received our new format has been internationally. She is a major champion and she wants to not only be a part of it. “The presence of this year’s Open champion and AIG Women’s Open champion is a great coup for the event and golf fans should not miss the opportunity to see them in action.”

Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Steve Dimopoulos said: “We’re delivering a blockbuster calendar of major events with this Australian Open giving Victorian fans the opportunity to be a part of a history-making event.”

“We’re proud to support this spectacular series of events that will showcase local talent while bringing men’s, women’s and all abilities competitions together right here in Melbourne.” The ISPS HANDA Australian Open is proudly supported by the Victorian Government through Visit Victoria. Tickets, Hospitality and VIP Experiences are on sale via Ticketek now.

Ashleigh Buhai.

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