Date: February 07, 2015

Past champs have advice for youngsters


As an array of young talent continue to impress at the 2015 Oates Victorian Open previous men’s tournament winners have passed on some handy advice.
Reigning champion Matt Griffin urged amateurs such as his fellow Victorians Ryan Ruffles, Ben Eccles and Andrew Schonewille to enjoy the atmosphere when entering the final stages of the event.
“It’s great to see all these amateurs coming through, my advice is just for them to enjoy the moment because this atmosphere is pretty special,” said Griffin.
The 31-year-old recovered from an unfortunate bogey to open his weekend campaign with a par score of 72. His overall tournament score of 3-under par now lays the foundation of a catch up race as he strives towards back-to-back titles.
“I do believe that I had a great start on day 1 however yesterday I had to scramble to make the cut as a result of a pretty bad patch,” said Griffin. 
“Today nothing went in so it shows you need some competitive practice to get your year going.”
The last man to achieve back to back Oates Victorian Open titles was US Open runner up Stephen Leaney 18 years ago.
Leaney, now 45, continued to climb up the leaderboard today; completing his bogey free round with 3-under par.
Leaney was joined by South Australian Jason Norris this morning who recovered from a few early birdies to finish his round 1-under par.
Norris, who won the 2010 Oates Vic Open at Spring Valley, also revealed that he has been impressed with the rise of talent at amateur level.
“They have to keep working hard, there are a lot of good players who have won this tournament,” said Norris.
“Golf Australia and VIS (Victorian Institute of Sport) are doing the right thing now with their physiotherapists and their coaches and I think the amateurs will be even better ten years from now.”
Gareth Paddison (New Zealand), the last International men’s champion of the tournament, has also recognised this young generation’s progress.
“Australian golf has got a great program and a great stable of players which turn them over,” said Paddison.
Paddison, who would like to add to his 2004 tournament title in addition to his recent two Victorian PGA titles, has already picked out some future talent while pleading that they don’t get carried away.
 “Those at the top of the leaderboard, they need to stay patient; they should just let it happen and not force it,” urged Paddison.
He added, “Ryan Ruffles and Lucas Herbert are playing very well and even these new professionals Todd Sinnott and Geoff Drakeford are amazing talents.”
16-year-old Ruffles sits on 12-under par entering tomorrow’s action thanks to his seven birdies in a group which featured 2012 tournament champion Scott Arnold (NSW).
“Ryan seems to be the next big thing in Australia, he’s mature for his age and a great kid overall,” said Arnold.
However even the 29-year-old believes he has what it takes to claim a second title, crediting his selection of driving for his for his outstanding score of 11-under after three days.
“I’m probably hitting it better than when I won in 2012 so hopefully if I can hold a few putts tomorrow I’ll be all right,” said Arnold.
He added, “I’ve had one bogey all week so that’s been convenient.”

By: Alex Tigani, Golf Victoria media