The world’s best players return to The Royal Melbourne Golf Club’s famous Composite Course for the 2015 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open this week.

Australian legend Karrie Webb – who won a record fifth national crown at Victoria Golf Club last year – will defend her title in a world-class field featuring several of the top 10.

Webb will be joined by 2012 champion Jessica Korda — the American who won the only previous time the event was held at Royal Melbourne – and emerging Perth superstar Minjee Lee, seeking her first national title in her maiden attempt as a professional.

Hall of Fame member Webb, who’s also a member at the host club, can’t wait to tee up and said: “It’s always nice to go back and defend, but when it’s your national championship, it’s even sweeter. And to get the chance to play again at such a great course as Royal Melbourne is something I know will bring the best out of not only the Aussies, but the whole field.”

ISPS Founder and Chairman Dr Haruhisa Handa expressed his delight at his ongoing support for the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.  ISPS places importance on the tournament not only highlighting the best of women’s golf but also raising money for worthwhile charities and helping in ISPS’s ultimate ambition to have golf become a Paralympic sport.

“ISPS is a strong believer in the power of sport – it has a unique ability to create hope, inspire people and change society for the better,” Dr Handa said.

Tourism Minister Louise Asher said the Open’s return boosts Melbourne’s reputation for hosting world-class golf.

“The Sandbelt courses are world famous and the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open is a great way for us to reinforce that on such a grand stage,” Ms Asher said.

“The men’s and women’s events we host this summer contribute to Victoria’s major sporting events calendar enormously and really boost our international profile.

“They not only attract visitors to Victoria and for the event itself, they attract visitors to play on our magnificent golf courses which is a lucrative and high-yielding market.”

Golf Australia chief executive officer Stephen Pitt said there was much to look forward to at the 2015 championship.

“The ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open has experienced exceptional growth in recent years, particularly in its international profile as a major women’s sporting event in the Asia-Pacific region,” Mr Pitt said.

“The championship consistently brings the highest number of top-20 ranked golfers in the world to Australia each year through our successful partnerships with the LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and ALPG Tour.

“A fundamental part of this excellent period for our national championship has been the support and enthusiasm from our title sponsor International Sports Promotion Society (ISPS) through Dr Haruhisa Handa.

“Dr Handa’s unwavering commitment to see golf included in Paralympic schedule is something Golf Australia fully supports and we are honoured that he sees the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open as a key opportunity to highlight his work in this area.

The 2015 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open will be played at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club from February 19-22. The event will be telecast on all four days on ABC.