Another chapter in the Australia-New Zealand sporting rivalry is set to play out around Thirteenth Beach Golf Links at Barwon Heads later this month.
Kiwi pair Michael Hendry and Mark Brown join a top quality field of Australian professionals teeing up in the prestigious Victorian Open being played February 21-24.
Hendry and Brown will look to become just the third New Zealander to win the tournament in its rich history, joining Walter Godfrey (1972) and Gareth Paddison (2004). Hendry and Brown are two of the in-form players on the PGA Tour of Australasia.
Brown comes to Barwon Heads having shot a stunning course record of 10-under par 62 at Kingston Heath last month to secure a spot in this year’s British Open field. It will be the second time that Brown, who turns 38 on February 9, has played the prestigious major tournament. His other appearance came in 2009.
Hendry has enjoyed an excellent 12 months on the PGA Tour of Australasia and the OneAsia tour. After finishing tied for third at last year’s Victorian Open, he went onto win the NZPGA Championship. It was a victory that rated up there with his 2010 Indonesian Open triumph.
He’s posted five top-10 finishes in his last eight tournaments, including fourth at last year’s Perth International, tied for sixth at the Australian Masters and tied for seventh at the Emirates Australian Open.
Those excellent performances led to the Auckland native finishing second overall on the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit. He finished fourth at last month’s inaugural Lexus of Blackburn Heritage Classic, the newest event on the PGA Tour of Australasia schedule.
The 33-year-old has secured a card to play on the lucrative Japanese Tour this year and Hendry will be using the Victorian Open as part of his preparations for his World Golf Championships debut in March, when he tees up in the WGC Cadillac Invitational.
The Open field has been finalised and tournament director David Greenhill said the strength of the men’s field is outstanding. Brown and Hendry join the likes of Australian PGA champion Daniel Popovic, former Australian Masters winner Richard Green, Peter O’Malley, Scott Laycock, Matt Griffin and Victorian PGA champ David McKenzie vying for a share of the $150,000 in prizemoney. Former Vic Open winners Mike Clayton (1989) and Kim Felton (2007) are also confirmed starters.
“We’re just two weeks away now from the much-anticipated 2013 Vic Open, being played for the very first time at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links and we’re very excited to have assembled two very strong fields for both the Men’s and Women’s Championships,’’ Greenhill said.
“Both fields have strong international flavours, particularly the women with plenty of Ladies European Tour players having entered.
“On the men’s side, the resurgence of New Zealand golf continues, highlighted by the performances of Michael Hendry and Mark Brown, with both players likely to be in the thick of things on the final day.’’
The Men’s Victorian Open will be played on the Beach Course, designed by Tony Cashmore, for all four days of its championship. The final two days will be played simultaneously with the women’s field.
For all the up-to-date news regarding the 2013 Vic Open, check Golf Victoria’s website, www.golfvic.org.au and follow @VicOpenGolf on twitter.
By: Bradley Green (Vic Open Freelancer)