Date: January 04, 2012

Revamped Vic Open showcases stars

The revamped 2012 Vic Open kicks off tomorrow with the men and women&aposs fields to play concurrently at Spring Valley for the final 36 holes over the weekend. Peter Lonard, Craig Parry and defending Champion Paul Sheehan headline a cast of both experienced and emerging young professionals chasing the Men’sOpen crown while Tamie Durdin, Lindsey Wright and Nikki Garrett are but a few of a talented field of women seeking the first Women’s Victorian Open title played since 1992. The 1st round of the 2012 Women’s Open will commence at Woodlands Golf Club on Friday January 6th with the remaining 36-holes to then be played concurrently with the Men’sOpen at Spring Valley on the weekend of January 7th 8th. The 2012 Men’sVictorian Open will be played over 72-holes at the Spring Valley Golf Club from Thursday 5th to Sunday January 8th. The Saturday round will see 50 players (plus ties plus amateurs) contest the 3rd round of the Men’sOpen in the morning beginning at 7.30am while the 2nd round of the Women’s Open will be played from 12noon during the afternoon. There will also be a cut for the Women’s Open following the 2nd round with 50 players plus ties progressing to Sunday s final round. Depending on the exact number of players that make the respective men’s and women’s final day fields, the intention is to play alternating men’s and women’s groups from the 1st tee from 7am until approximately 1.30pm. The aim is to have the leading group of men’s and women’s players follow each other up the 18th hole to conclude the event. First played in 1957, the Men’sVictorian Open honour role boasts a virtual who s who of Australian golf including Greg Norman, Gary Player, Peter Thomson and Robert Allenby and has also provided the major tournament break through opportunity for numerous talented young players. Including the resurgent Parry, the 2012 men’s field includes 30 of the top 50 players from the 2011 PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit and some of the country s brightest golf prospects in James Nitties; Matthew Griffin; 2009 Vic Open winner Ashley Hall and rookie Victorian professional Kieran Pratt, who has enjoyed an excellent first year in the pay for play ranks. Twenty-three year old Pratt finished as the top Australian amateur in 2010 immediately before turning professional and finished 12th on the Order of Merit in his first full season. A recent equal sixth place finish at the JB Were Masters sees the Melbournian in good form going into his second Vic Open as a professional. The field for the Women’s Open also sees a host of up and coming talent including local favourite and current leader of the ALPG Order of Merit Stacey Keating. The 25-year-old has enjoyed a great first year as a professional with six top-10 s on the Ladies European Tour (LET) and over 50,000 euro to be 45th on the money list. Other players to watch during the reborn Women’s Vic Open include Western Australian Kristie Smith, winner of the LET/ALPG 2011 Women’s New Zealand Open and No.1 on the 2011 Order of Merit; Norway s Marianne Skarpnord who has won twice on the LET Tour and New South Wales Frances Bondad who recently won the Sanya Ladies Open in China and finished 2011 in 36th place on the LET money list. Leading amateurs from around Australia have also been attracted to each event including reigning Australian Men’sand Women’s champions in Matt Steiger (New South Wales) and Ashlee Dewhurst (Tasmania). Other notable amateur entrants include 15-year-old prodigy Min Jee Lee from Western Australia; Singapore s Charlotte Thomas who won the Victorian Women’s Amateur in early December; New Zealand s No. 1 ranked amateur in Ben Campbell and current Victorian Men’sChampion and 2011 Riversdale Cup winner Nathan Holman. Admission to Woodlands for the first round of the Women’s Open is free while entry to all days of the 2012 Vic Open at Spring Valley is just $8 for a daily adult ticket or $15 for a season pass across the four days. Juniors under 18 years of age are free on all days of the Championship. Follow on Twitter: @VicOpenGolf