Thai superstar Ariya Jutanugarn soared all the way to No.2 in the Rolex Rankings last year on the back of a prolific and record-setting 2016 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.
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