This year’s Oates Vic Open men’s field is one of the strongest assembled in decades, which excites one of the tournament drawcards in Brett Rumford.
Rumford has taken a break from his European Tour commitments to travel to Barwon Heads and will tee-up in the Oates Vic Open for the first time in a number of years.
The 280th ranked player in the world is so far impressed by 13 Beach and is also a fan of the concept of both the men and women playing together over the next four days.
“It’s different but I’ve only heard good things about combining it with the ladies as well,” Rumford said.
“You’ll get some good crowds down here and obviously it’s really great to have the mix playing together. I played with a couple of ladies (on Tuesday) and they’re incredible talents.
“It’s a great location out here at Barwon Heads and I’m looking forward to it.
“I’ve always been a big supporter of Australian golf and the Tour so it’s great to come back and have the opportunity to play and it will still be a proud achievement taking out this title this week.”
Conditions were almost perfect for Wednesday’s Pro-Am but Rumford knows 13th Beach has a reputation for being difficult to score on if the winds pick up.
“The predictions (for a winning score) are all over the place but, being a links course, it needs a bit of wind – as all links golf courses need,” Rumford said.
“We played the pro-am this morning and it was fairly benign but it’s scoreable so really looking forward to the week.”
Rumford will play the first two rounds along with fellow West Australian Michael Sim and 2012 New Zealand Open winner Jake Higginbottom, from New South Wales. They tee off at 12.10pm on the Beach course in the first round.
A lot of fan interest will be on Robert Allenby, who’s returning to the tournament for the first time since 1999.
Allenby, who will play alongside defending champion Michael Long and 2015 winner Richard Green for the first two rounds, won the Oates Vic Open as an amateur in 1991. That trio tees off on the Creek course at 8.10am in the first round.
A winner of 22 tournaments worldwide over his career, Allenby said he’s excited to have the chance to come back and support the tournament that kick-started his professional career.
“It’s important that you remember where you started,” Allenby said. “Victorian golf has been awesome to me growing up.”
The 45-year-old declared he’s playing as well as he ever has throughout his decorated career.
“I hit a drive today (in the Pro-Am) 360 metres, so I think I can still get it out there,” Allenby said.
“That’s the one thing that really hasn’t left me is my ball striking. I had some problems over the last couple of years just with my confidence and a few fears crept into my game.
“But it’s starting to come back now and really starting to hit the ball like I used to. Honestly, I’m probably hitting the ball now better than I ever have in my whole career.
“Golf is one of those games … it doesn’t matter really how old you are. As you get older you get smarter.”
Allenby is also a supporter of the world-unique format where the men’s and women’s fields play alongside each other.
“I think it’s fantastic, really awesome,” Allenby said.
“It generates a different crowd. We’ll have crowds that don’t normally come out for us and they’ll have crowds that normally don’t come for them.
“The golf courses are awesome, so hopefully the weather behaves itself and we’ll have a great week.”
Recently crowned Australian Amateur champion Matias Sanchez, from Victoria, will tee off at 12.30pm on the Beach course along with South Australian Adam Bland and last week’s Victorian PGA champion Damien Jordan.