New Zealand Golf has made an historic announcement about the women's Open.
The tournament will become an annual fixture on the LPGA Tour and is moving north to Auckland from Christchurch, as reported by the Herald yesterday.
It'll be played at the Windross Farm course in south Auckland and be known as the McKayson New Zealand Women's Open.
Windross Farm has undergone a revamp and is now a top-level championship course. In 2012, 84 per cent of Manukau Golf Club members voted for the club to move from its original Takinini site, seven minutes down the road to its new 60 ha location at Windross Farm, owned by Graham Windross. Along with the design expertise from the likes of former New Zealand pro Phil Tataurangi, the new course came to fruition.
The tournament will receive government funding, allowing for greater prize money and securing the return of world number Lydia Ko every year and other high profile names.
"I am so excited with this announcement to bring the LPGA to my hometown in Auckland," said Ko.
"I am honoured to be the first player to sign up to play. It is going to be amazing for me and my family to host my LPGA friends in my country. I want to see golf grow in New Zealand and more women playing the game, so this news today is fantastic."
The women's national Open has long superceded its men's equivalent, largely due to Ko's attendance. For the past four years it has been at Clearwater in Christchurch in front of impressive crowds, with Ko dominating for three victories.
It's the biggest announcement in the sport in New Zealand since Tiger Woods played the national men's open in 2002.
"New Zealand Golf is thrilled with the boost for golf and the golf industry in this country and for the women's game in particular," said New Zealand Golf CEO, Dean Murphy.
"Inbound golf tourism brought in $329 million to New Zealand in the year ended August 2016, which was a 23 per cent increase over last year.
"The LPGA international platform will allow Auckland and New Zealand a unique opportunity to promote ourselves to a worldwide audience in over 150 countries with over eight hours of television coverage.
"We have a chance to show off our great golf courses in this country to a massive global audience and build on the investment in golf infrastructure and tourism. Bringing the major women's golf tour to this country will provide an unprecedented opportunity for all golfers and sports fans to watch some of the game's best players in action, as well as excite young kids to take up the sport. And it gives us a chance for Lydia to play in an LPGA event here at home."