Golf’s LIV players cleared to play in Australian Open

The path remains clear for LIV golfers to play in the Australian Open, with defending champ Matt Jones confirming he’ll be defending his title at the December event.

Jones is one of five Australians taking part in this week’s LIV event in Chicago, playing on the “Punch GC” team with countrymen Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman, who are also returning for the Open, and Wade Ormsby.

Australian PGA champ Jediah Morgan is also in the 54-man field, playing for $25m in prizemoney.

LIV tour chief executive, and Australian legend, Greg Norman this week confirmed a failed bid to lure Adam Scott to join the Saudi-backed group. Scott is also a certainty to return home for the Open and PGA this summer.

Despite their suspensions from the PGA Tour, with which Golf Australia has a strong alignment, the Australian stars will be welcome back with open arms for the historic Open, where both the men’s and women’s events will be played at the same time at Victoria Golf Club in December.

Jones won the second of his two Australian Opens in 2019, the last time the event was played because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and will return in search of a third title.

“It gives me a lot of pleasure to know that I can come back and defend,” the 42-year-old said.

“It’s been a while, that’s for sure, but I can’t wait to get there. Everyone’s aware of how great the Melbourne sandbelt courses are and that’s always a challenge for any player as well as a treat.

“Winning two national Opens is one of the things that I’m most proud of in my career, but quite frankly three would be even better.”

Another former Australian Open winner, and 2010 US Open champ, Geoff Ogilvy, has also committed to playing in December.

Ogilvy, 45, made a brief return to the US PGA tour this year, playing two events, having stopped paying full-time and moving back to Australia in 2019.

Golf Australia boss James Sutherland trumpeted the return of nearly every Australian star they could have hoped for. Only reigning US Open champ Minjee Lee is yet to lock the event in to her schedule.

“It’s been almost three years since the Open was played because of the pandemic, and we all know how tough that’s been,” Sutherland said.

“I’m confident that with the new format of the Open, the incredibly good quality of the venues being world class golf courses, and the genuine brilliance of players like Cameron Smith, Cameron Davis, Hannah Green, Lucas Herbert, Matt Jones, Geoff Ogilvy and others who we’ll announce in good time, this is going to be something very special.”

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