Australia’s own best women’s golfers will take centre stage at the 2014 Oates Vic Open, February 20 – 23 February at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links. It is seldom that Australian sport fans are afforded the chance to see home grown talent on display on home soil. This year’s Women’s Oates Vic Open field offers just that with several world class Australian LPGA players committed to play straight from the ISPS HANDA Women’s Australian Open which tees off February 13.
Some of the names that will embark on the ALPG Tour sanctioned Oates Vic Open in two weeks are Lindsey Wright, Sarah Jane Smith, Julia Boland, Kristie Smith and Sarah Kemp.
Lindsey Wright of Tonbridge Wells, New South Wales, attended Pepperdine University in California prior to her debut on the LPGA tour in 2004. She was a stand out during her time at Pepperdine, having been ranked in the top 15 collegiate players every year that she competed in the NCAA, her highest ranking being 3rd.
One of her amateur achievements that garnered some serious attention was her second place finish at the 2002 British Women’s Amateur. Still playing on the LPGA Tour today, some of her best finishes have been in the major championships. The Aussie had a brilliant run of form from 2007-2009, having finished a career best second at the 2009 LPGA McDonald’s Championship, with two fourth place finishes at the 2007 LPGA Championship and the 2009 Kraft Nabisco Championship. In the lead up to this year’s Oates Vic Open, Wright finished T5 at the Bing Lee Fujitsu General Women’s NSW Open.
Sarah Jane Smith born in Geelong, Victoria, but residing in Little Mountain, Queensland, was the top ranked junior in Australia in 2002 and then followed that ranking with being the top ranked amateur in Australia in 2003. After turning pro in 2004, the Queenslander won her first tournament in 2006, the Tampa Bay FUTURES Golf Classic. This past season Sarah played in 21 events and her best finish on tour came on home soil at the ISPS HANDA Women’s Australian Open, where she finished T5.
Last year at the 2013 Women’s Vic Open she finished T16. An avid cupcake fan, Sarah is no doubt looking to celebrate a win at Thirteenth Beach with the Oates Vic Open trophy and maybe a local Barwon Heads cupcake.
An Aussie who recently attained an LPGA Tour Card is Julia Boland. The native of Tamworth, New South Wales, turned professional in 2011 so her quick rise to the LPGA Tour, in 2013, must be commended. Boland won her first professional event in 2012, on the Symmetra Tour, at the Four Winds Invitational. That season she ranked second on tour in Driving Distance, Driving Accuracy and in Rookie of the Year points. In January, Boland finished the Bing Lee Fujitsu General Women’s NSW Open in 12th place.
Boland is an exciting Aussie talent who lists Karrie Webb as having the most influence on her career. No doubt golf fans will have to watch Boland tee it up as the long hitting Aussie will be a treat to watch with the driver in her hand. Last year she finished 44th and this year she will be looking to add the coveted Championship to her young professional career, something that Karrie Webb would most certainly be very proud of.
A new Aussie addition to the LPGA Tour is Kristie Smith. Smith is the newest addition to the LPGA Tour of the five players featured in this article. A young and exciting Western Australian golfing talent who finished second at the Vic Open last year, Smith is sure to excite the crowd this year. She is coming off a fantastic result at the 2014 Bing Lee Fujitsu General New South Wales Open where she finished in the top 5, her second top 5 finish at the event in the past three years. Further, Smith finished T8 at the 2014 ISPS HANDA New Zealand Women’s Open, a fantastic result in the lead up to this year’s event.
Originating from Tuncurry, New South Wales, Sarah Kemp played a round in 2007 that summarises how tough this golfer truly is. She carded birdies on her final four holes at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to tie for 9th, earning exempt status for the following 2008 season. Since 2008, she has held her LPGA Tour card as well as holding a card on the Ladies European Tour.
In 2012, Kemp broke her foot and required surgery to get it repaired. Her resilience showed in 2013 as she recorded a season best T17 finish at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, as well as recording a 3rd place finish in the Vintage Pro-Am, part of the ALPG Club Car Series. Sarah had a top 25 finish in the Vic Open last year and should again be in the mix for 2014.
Visit www.golfvic.org.au for the latest news and tournament updates.
By: Michael Speakman