THE 2017 Australian Open has its first big name signing with defending champion Jordan Spieth heading back to the course that helped launch his major career.
The dual Australian Open champion was just a young golfer with one professional win under his belt (and loads of potential) when he teed it up seeking his first Stonehaven Cup at the 2014 edition of the event at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney.
The now 23 year old Texan shot a course record final round 8-under 63 to win by six strokes, beating a quality field that included then world number one Rory McIlroy and number three Adam Scott.
Spieth readily acknowledges the win helped propel him to his stellar 2015, when he won the US Masters, US Open, was second at the US PGA Championship and T4 at The Open Championship. He also had three other tour victories.
In 2015 Spieth returned to the Aussie Open and was tied second with Adam Scott behind winner Matt Jones.
Last year he grabbed his second title in a thrilling playoff at Royal Sydney against Ash Hall and Cam Smith.
Spieth clearly enjoys his Australian visits and is popular with the local golf fans.
“I have really enjoyed my visits to Sydney and can’t wait to get back in November,” Spieth said this week.
“I look back at the win in 2014 at The Australian, which is a great memory, and it definitely helped build momentum for a successful 2015.
“After coming so close again in 2015, it was great to get the Stonehaven Cup back last year.”
“The Emirates Australian Open seems to grow in stature among the world’s players every year and I really enjoy playing in front of the enthusiastic galleries in Sydney. It should be a great test again – I can’t wait.”
Golf Australia chief executive Stephen Pitt welcomed the news.
“Jordan is one of the greatest players in today’s game and has proven to be exceptionally popular with audiences in Australia and around the globe,” Pitt said.
“He has been a great champion and ambassador of the Emirates Australian Open and, if you think back to his late charge in 2015, he could easily be playing for his fourth title in a row.
“We are really delighted that he is coming back again and think that he will form part of a very formidable line-up we’re building for fans at The Australian.”
Mark Hardess, Australian Open tournament director for promoter Lagardère Sports, said Spieth’s return was great for the championship as it continued to build its international reputation.
“It’s terrific having a player of Jordan’s calibre back to defend his crown,” Hardess said.
“The tournament is already global, but his presence again makes it a must-watch event around the golfing world.”
The Emirates Australian Open is a flagship tournament on the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia. The winner will receive a minimum of 32 Official World Golf Ranking points.
The event will be telecast all four days on Channel 7.
Tickets are on sale now from Ticketek at www.ticketek.com or by calling 132 849.