One of Australia’s most successful modern day golfers, Robert Allenby, is returning to the tournament he won as an amateur that helped launch his professional career.
Allenby will take a break from his playing commitments in the US to be a confirmed starter at 13th Beach Golf Links in the 2017 Oates Vic Open from February 9.
Allenby became the first amateur to claim the Oates Vic Open at Woodlands Golf Club in 1991, before embarking on a decorated professional career that’s seen him win 22 times around the globe on the US, European, South African and Australasian Tours.
As a born and bred Melburnian, the 45-year-old says he’s looking forward to teeing up in the Oates Vic Open for the first time since a T4 finish in 1999.
“I’m actually quite excited about coming back to play the Oates Vic Open,” said Allenby.
“At this time of the year I don’t normally get a chance to come back home, so it works out really well for me with my schedule.
“Obviously Melbourne has always been my home no matter where I am in the world so I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Allenby still has vivid memories of winning in 1991 as a 20-year-old amateur.
“My Dad, Don, was caddying for me and I played with Ian Stanley and Paul Moloney in the last round… and I ended up winning by seven shots,” Allenby recalls.
Along with his famous victory, Allenby has recorded a further five top 10 Oates Vic Open results as a professional, including finishing runner-up to West Australian Stephen Leaney in 1995.
Ten years later the Victorian became the first player to win Australian golf’s ‘Triple Crown’ in one season, consecutively claiming the Australian Open, Australian Masters and Australian PGA Championship in 2005.
While he hasn’t tasted success since winning his fourth Australian PGA Championship in 2009, Allenby showed showed some improved form late last year after finishing T12 at the Fiji International and 10th at the Emirates Australian Open at Royal Sydney.
“I’m hitting the ball as good as I’ve ever hit it,” Allenby says.
“I’m just working on my short game, trying to get that a little bit better, a little sharper, but I’m actually really happy with how I’m playing.
“I’m looking forward to coming down to 13th Beach and playing some nice golf.”
Allenby is also eager to experience the tournament’s unique format with the men and women playing in alternating groups at the world-renowned 13th Beach Creek and Beach courses.
The combined $1 million prize pool is shared evenly between the men’s and women’s fields, Allenby full of praise for the Oates Vic Open’s unusual setup.
“Change in golf at the moment is what’s needed, so I think it’s great and fun,” Allenby says.
“You get people who want to follow the men and you also get the women’s crowd so you get a very diverse sort of crowd, so that’s pretty cool.”
Golf Victoria CEO Simon Brookhouse says Allenby’s appearance enhances what is already shaping up as one of the strongest Oates Vic Open fields in recent history.
“The inclusion of another former champion to the men’s field for next month’s Oates Vic Open is fantastic news for Australian golf fans and those heading out to 13th Beach,” says Brookhouse.
“Robert’s performance at last November’s Emirates Australian Open saw him in the thick of things until Sunday afternoon and it would be a terrific story if that form could carry him to a second Oates Vic Open.”
The Oates Vic Open will be Allenby’s first event for the 2017 ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia season.
The final two rounds of the 2017 Oates Vic Open will be live streamed on Facebook LIVE and at www.vicopengolf.com.