Karen Lunn. Photo: Melissa Adams
Former British Open champion Karen Lunn says Royal Canberra should remain a contender to host the Women's Australian Open in future, insisting next month's tournament shouldn't be a one-off.
In the past the tournament has largely been played on Melbourne's sandbelt but Lunn has called for Royal Canberra to host the event on a rotational basis.
Lunn, 46, the 1993 British Open winner, won last year's Canberra Ladies Classic at the course and rates it one of the country's best.
The Open will be held in Canberra for the first time from February 14-17 as part of the city's centenary celebrations. ''It's about time. Canberra is our capital and Royal Canberra is one of our best courses, so there's no reason it shouldn't be there and I'm absolutely delighted it is,'' Lunn said.
''It never gets the recognition it deserves. It's a beautiful golf course aesthetically and one of the best conditioned in Australia, but never gets the accolades the Royal Melbournes or the Kingston Heaths get. I think it definitely should be on a rotational basis, if not going all around the country then certainly to cities like Sydney and Canberra,'' she said.
''There's no reason it should be stuck in Melbourne all the time.
I know the Victorians and their government support their sport, but it is the Australian Open, not the Victorian Open.''
The tournament is the first event of this year's lucrative USLPGA schedule and most of the world's best players are expected to take part in it.
Lunn said it was a rare opportunity for the course to receive due recognition worldwide and enhance its chances of snaring more tournament hosting rights.
''For me it's one of the top 10 courses I have played in Australia and it has never really had the opportunity to shine on the international stage,'' Lunn said.
''If it's a big success, and I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be, there's no reason why it shouldn't go back there, no doubt about that.
''The one thing the Canberra people do is they really get behind their sport, and particularly women's sport.'' Lunn said Royal Canberra tests every part of a golfer's repertoire, making it perfectly suited to major tournaments.
Shortly after her Canberra victory, Lunn won her 10th career European Tour title at Morocco before injuries hampered the second part of her season.
She expects Canberra's Nikki Campbell, a member at Royal Canberra, to be one of her main rivals, and has also backed the 32-year-old to enjoy success in her first European Tour campaign this year.
After a decade in Japan, Campbell earned a full European card at qualifying school in December.
''I've got no doubt in my mind she will do really well over there, she's probably been the most underrated player Australia's had in women's golf,'' Lunn said.
''I don't know why success on the Japanese Tour doesn't translate elsewhere, people think they have rubbish fields, but she's been in the top 50 [on the Japan money list] and won tournaments.
''I know how homesick she got even in Japan, that's why she loved being there because it's close to home, [so] I don't know how she's going to go being away for long periods of time,'' Lunn said.
''But she's a good enough player to win anywhere and it wouldn't surprise me at all if she won a couple of tournaments in Europe.''
AUSTRALIAN WOMEN'S OPEN: February 14-17 at Royal Canberra Golf Club. Prizemoney: $1.15 million.