Two of Australian golf’s brightest young stars, Su Oh and Hannah Green, have committed to the long-haul flight from the Bahamas to Barwon Heads in order to return to the Oates Vic Open.
The young guns will join fellow LPGA Tour stars Cheyenne Woods and Pernilla Lindberg on an express flight back home and in the stacked 2018 women’s field at 13th Beach Golf Links from February 1.
“I’m flying out Sunday night through Miami to Dallas, then flying to Australia on Monday night to arrive on Wednesday morning before I head down to Barwon Heads,” Oh told Golf Victoria.
“Hopefully we finish in the Bahamas on Sunday, but there’s so many weather delays!”
Victorian Oh will be one of the hot favourites when she tees it up in her seventh Oates Vic Open, no doubt buoyed by an incredible record in her home state Open.
Oh’s Oates Vic Open record boasts five top 6 finishes, including a runner-up performance in 2015 and a T3 last year.
Her lowest finish on the leaderboard was as a 16-year-old in 2013 when she finished T16.
“I know I came second one year, when Marianne Skarpnord won. I had no idea it was that good! Hopefully I’ll go a couple of shots better this time,” said Oh.
“The good thing is I know the course really well. I’m really familiar with the place, I know a lot of the people there and I’ve played a lot of golf at 13th Beach.”
Meanwhile, Green is set to make her fifth appearance at 13th Beach after the 21-year-old produced a career year in the US.
Green made a name for herself on the Symetra Tour – the LPGA’s secondary circuit – in 2017, racking up three wins on her way to a second-placed finish on the money list.
The West Australian’s biggest reward was a promotion to the LPGA Tour in 2018, where she’ll join established stars Oh and Minjee Lee for her rookie season.
“I know how well Hannah did to finish top 5 last year because I know how much of a grind the Symetra Tour is,” said Oh.
“I said if there’s anything you want to ask about then ask away – but she seems like she knows what she’s doing!
“Obviously Hannah and Minjee know each other quite well because they’re both from WA but every time we see each other we try and catch up.”
That trio will give Australian golf fans to cheer about on the world’s biggest women’s tour in 2018, as Lee chases a third LPGA crown and Oh and Green hunt a maiden title.
“All of us have been playing well, including Sarah-Jane [Smith], Katherine [Kirk] won on the LPGA Tour last year, Karrie [Webb] was leading the Scottish Open as well,” said Oh.
“We have great players on the men’s and women’s tours at the moment and hopefully more people get involved and are watching.”
The Oates Vic Open will be the first of a handful of starts on the revitalised ALPG Tour for Oh and Green, presenting a great opportunity for a number of players heading to Adelaide for the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open to fine-tune their form.
“I always love playing back home and we’ve got a few new events this year,” said Oh.
“The LET is on board with the ALPG as well so I think the fields are going to be great too.
“People really like going to 13th Beach, the players I’ve spoken to that have been there really liked it.
“I think a lot of people want to go and the purse is really good too. It’s the only event that we can play with the men as well, so that’s something different and I think a lot of the girls like that.”
The Australian contingent won’t have it all their own way at 13th Beach, with the women’s field in 2018 looking stronger than ever thanks to the co-sanctioning agreement with the Ladies European Tour.
The Oates Vic Open will be the LET’s first event for the new season, luring defending champion Mel Reid and 2016 winner Georgia Hall back to Barwon Heads along with Indian sensation Aditi Ashok.
Last year’s LET Rookie Of The Year Camille Chevallier will be teeing it up after a breakout season in 2017, while future stars Casey Danielson and Manon Molle will kick start their rookie seasons at 13th Beach.
Four-time major champion Laura Davies is also back for another crack at Oates Vic Open glory, the LET life member to be joined by fellow Tour regulars Beth Allen, Florentyna Parker, Camilla Lennarth, Carly Booth and more.
Mayor Bruce Harwood, City of Greater Geelong, is thrilled to see the strength of field go up another notch less than two weeks out from the first round.
“The City is proud to sponsor the 2018 Oates Vic Open, particularly given the strength of this year’s field,” said Mayor Harwood.
“The inclusion of Australian young guns Su Oh and Hannah Green gives fans even more reason to head to 13th Beach for what’s sure to be an exciting tournament.
“If you love sport, or you just want to be part of a world class event in one of our region’s most picturesque locations, the Oates Vic Open is not to be missed.”
The Oates Vic Open is the only golf tournament of its kind around the world, where the men’s and women’s fields compete on the same courses, at the same time, for an equal share of the prize money.
In 2018, the combined purse will be $1.3 million, meaning the men and women will each battle it out in Barwon Heads for a share of $650,000.
Those unable to make the trip to Barwon Heads in February will still be able to watch the weekend’s action with the return of the Oates Vic Open live stream.
Hosted on Facebook LIVE and YouTube, fans across Australia and around the world will be able to follow the final 36 holes of the tournament thanks to the Oates Vic Open’s professional broadcast team.
Find out more about the 2018 Oates Vic Open at www.vicopengolf.com.