Defending Oates Vic Open men’s champion Matt Griffin is ready for the challenge to become just the third back-to-back champion since the tournament began in 1957. Meanwhile, eight time LPGA winner Rachel Hetherington will try to capture her first Oates Vic Open in her first appearance.
Griffin had a wonderful year in 2014, labelling it as his best golfing year, which was launched with his first win on Australian soil at the Oates Vic Open and second PGA Tour of Australasia victory. The Victorian is looking forward to the challenge of 2015 and is eager to reclaim his title as state champion.
“Last year was definitely my best golfing year. I had some good results in Australia and ended up getting my card for Japan this year. It was a good step forward in 2014.
“It’s always exciting to be able to defend a title. Having won the home state open is really exciting. I got back into practice nice and early and have been doing some work with my coach. I’m feeling like I’m ready to go for the first round in February,” said Griffin.
The 31 year old recalled the stunning finish to last year’s win, making three consecutive birdies in the playoff to outlast Matt Stieger from NSW in front of a big audience around the 18th hole.
“That’s what you do all the work for, to be able to produce under pressure. It was nice to be able to make three birdies in the playoff and get the win against Matt [Stieger].
“As far as attendance goes, it’s right up there. There are bigger crowds out there but it’s right up there with some of the biggest crowds in Australia. It’s really good with the people on the fairways, it’s a nice atmosphere, and it was great last year to have the hometown support.”
For Rachel Hetherington, the Oates Vic Open, a sanctioned event on the ALPG Tour will be her first major tournament since announcing she was returning to tour, having retired from the LPGA Tour in October 2010.
Hetherington’s resume is impressive, consisting of ten titles including eight LPGA titles; three of which were gained by defeating former world No. 1 Annika Sorenstam in playoffs. Since retiring from the LPGA, Rachel has enjoyed motherhood and opening up her own golf range on the Tweed Coast.
“I’ve never stopped loving golf, I just had my attention happily diverted and got busy starting a family and a golf range business. Bringing up a toddler has made me more adaptable in a good way, that’s for sure.
“I know there is only a certain, short time every day I can concentrate on golf but I’m enjoying hitting balls again and working on my golf swing,” said Hetherington.
The 42 year old is looking forward to playing Thirteenth Beach for the first time and experiencing the unique format of competing alongside the men.
“I have heard only good things about the concept and expect it’s a unique opportunity for spectators to watch the best of the men and women playing at the same venue at the same time.”
The Oates Vic Open will be played from Thursday 5 February – Sunday 8 February at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links, Barwon Heads.