Two of Australian golf’s most decorated careers will continue on home soil from February 1 when Robert Allenby and Peter Lonard tee it up at the 2018 Oates Vic Open.
The experienced duo add further depth to the men’s field in 2018 which already boasts the last five male champions and the biggest names from the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia.
Victorian Allenby is heading back to 13th Beach Golf Links for the second straight year as he continues his hunt for a second Oates Vic Open crown.
Lonard, a nine-time winner on the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia, joins the Oates Vic Open field for the first time since 2015.
“I think the Vic Open where the girls play and the boys play together is a good concept, it makes sense to me,” Lonard told Golf Victoria.
“I think the actual concept of putting everyone together and perhaps appealing to a wider range of people is a great idea.
“For me, it’s really interesting to see the way the girls practise, the way they approach the game.
In recent weeks Lonard has been sharpening his own game at his home club in Sydney, the notoriously breezy The Lakes Golf Club.
“Through my career I suppose my better golf has been played on firmer, bouncier courses with wind, it just suits the way I like to fly the ball,” said Lonard.
“I think 13th Beach sets up really well and it’s a really good test of golf, particularly when the wind blows.”
After overcoming injury in 2015, Lonard returned to the US and has spent the bulk of the past two seasons on the Web.com Tour.
In his senior circuit debut, Lonard finished third at the Senior Open Championship last July and the 50-year-old hopes to split his time in Europe and on the US Champions Tour in 2018.
“It was good fun seeing a lot of old guys because I played in Europe in the 90s and there was a lot of guys I hadn’t seen in 15 years – same blokes, same villains, same everything,” said Lonard.
“It’s like it’s always been, if I’m in Australia I’ll always try to play what Australia’s got to offer.
“There’s a lot of kids that I don’t know but there’s a lot of blokes still sniffing around. It’s great to see them all.”
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Allenby adds to the list of former champions in the 2018 field, but the Victorian remains the only male amateur winner in the tournament’s history after his 1991 triumph at Woodlands Golf Club as a 20-year-old.
That win was the first of 13 career victories on the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia, the highlight coming in 2005 when Allenby became the first player to win the Triple Crown (the Australian Open, Australian PGA Championship and Australian Masters) in the same year.
Rounds of 70-70-71 saw Allenby narrowly miss the unique 54-hole cut at last year's event but gave the 46-year-old a good look at 13th Beach in his first appearance at the Oates Vic Open since 1999.
The Oates Vic Open is the only golf tournament of its kind around the world, with the men’s and women’s fields competing on the same courses, at the same time, for an equal share in the prize money.
In 2018, the combined purse will be a minimum of $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.