The international tournament – an institution on Queensland’s Gold Coast – enjoys global respect among players and commands a huge following via the print media and national and international television audiences.
Now in its 20th year, we look back at the journey of the ANZ Ladies Masters to here.
In 1990 Tuohy Associates, with the support of Daikyo Australia, launched the first Australian Ladies Masters at Palm Meadows Golf Club on the Gold Coast.
US Open champion Jane Geddes won the inaugural event and successfully defended her title in 1991.
The appeal of the Ladies Masters was evident from the outset and was embraced by both players and the general public – Australia was ready for a world-class Ladies Professional Golf Association event.
Late in 1991, Daikyo’s operation in Australia ceased resulting in the end of their support of the Ladies Masters.
After extensive negotiations with corporate Australia, Tuohy Associates entered into a long-term arrangement with Philip Morris Ltd.
It was a lucrative sponsorship deal that would last for another eight years and thrust the event into the international spotlight.
During the Philip Morris era, the Ladies Masters secured the co-sanction support of the US LPGA Tour, which produced the profile and momentum to move the Ladies Masters forward.
In 2001, and after the demise of tobacco sponsorship in Australia, the event’s future was assured with the involvement of Queensland Events and the securing of ANZ as the Title Sponsor.
In the same year the Ladies Masters entered into a co-sanction agreement with the Ladies European Tour (LET) and the Australian Ladies Professional Golf association (ALPG), resulting in excellent fields of the world’s leading women’s golfers.
A hole in one
In 2002/2003, the Ladies Masters out-rated all of its male counterpart events on Australian national television and set new records in media exposure generated by golf.
Today, the ANZ Ladies Masters reaches a potential worldwide audience in excess of 130 million households, providing enormous exposure to the Gold Coast and Queensland as an international destination.
The 2008 event was broadcast live on the Ten Network and replayed on Fox Sports while internationally the game reached televisions across the world including countries like New Zealand, Korea and Japan.
The ANZ Ladies Masters has been the launch-pad for many of the world’s best players including Amy Yang, Karrie Webb, Lorena Ochoa, Annika Sorenstam, Ya-Ni Tseng and Ji Yai Shin.
Meet the ladies:
JANE GEDDES (USA) 1990 & 1991
Jane Geddes, former US Open and LPGA Champion, was the winner of the first two Ladies Masters contested at Palm Meadows in 1990/1991. Geddes was also runner-up to Jane Crafter in 1996 and Annika Sorenstam in 1995.
JANE CRAFTER (AUS) 1992 & 1996
Jane Crafter won in 1992 and 1996. Her second victory was one of the most thrilling in Masters History. Joining her in the final group were England’s Laura Davies and Sweden's Liselotte Neumann and all three had eagle putts at the 18th to overhaul Geddes who had finished at 18-under. While the other two missed, Crafter holed a putt from 14 metres that never looked in doubt.
LAURA DAVIES (ENG) 2003/1994 & 1993
Considered one of the most accomplished English female golfer of modern times and winner of more than 50 Tournaments on the US and European Tours, including the British and US Opens, Davies won the Masters back to back in 1993/1994 and again in 2003. Laura became the second 3-time winner of the event in 2003 with a clutch par putt from 10 feet on the final hole to edge out Queensland's Karrie Webb and Rebecca Stevenson.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM (SWE) 2004/2002 & 1995
World ranked Annika Sorenstam added a third Masters Title to her 1995 and 2002 success by winning the 2004 Masters. Her 90 international tournament wins as a professional make her the female golf player with the most wins to her name. She also tops the LPGA's career money list with earnings of more than $22 million.
GAIL GRAHAM (CAN) 1997
Gail Graham recorded her second professional victory with a one shot win over Karrie Webb at Royal Pines in 1997 when the Ladies Masters was played as a joint ALPG/USLPGA event.
KARRIE WEBB (AUS) 2007/2005/2001/2000/1999 & 1998
Queenslander, Karrie Webb won four consecutive Ladies Masters titles with her reign coming to an end in 2002 in a nail-biting finish with World No.1 Annika Sorenstam. But the tournament cups didn’t stop there – Karrie went on to win in 2005 and again in 2007.
AMY YANG (KOR )2006
Amy Yang is a true ANZ Ladies Masters success story. At just 16-years-old, the Korean teenager claimed victory in dramatic style. With her victory the talented youngster became the first amateur to win a Ladies European Tour event in 22 years. In only her second appearance in a professional golf event, Yang outplayed some of the best female players in the world and also became the first amateur to ever win a professional ladies event in Australia.
LISA HALL (ENG) 2008
In her rookie season, Hall was named Rookie of the Year. However soon after that she began to struggle and by 2005 she wasn't playing tournament golf at all. In 2006 she made a comeback on the Ladies European Tour. In 2008 England’s Lisa Hall fired a six-under-par 66 on Sunday's third and final round to take a one stroke victory from second round leader Hyun Ju Shin to post a winning total of 13-under-par 203.
ANZ Ladies Masters
When: February 5-8, 2009
Where: Royal Pines Resort, Gold Coast
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