The biggest prize pool in the Oates Vic Open’s history will be split between one of its strongest fields when the 2017 event kicks off at 13th Beach Golf Links on February 9.
The men’s side of the 2017 Oates Vic Open has been bolstered by the addition of household names of Australian golf and a swathe of former champions.
West Australian Brett Rumford has confirmed he’ll tee it up in Barwon Heads next week, the five-time European Tour winner hunting a maiden Oates Vic Open crown and a large slice of the $500,000 purse on offer at the Tour’s newest Tier 1 event.
The 39-year-old is returning to the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia for his first start since an outright fifth result at December’s Australian PGA Championship, after a promising start to his 2017 campaign.
Rumford finished T25 at the European Tour’s Hong Kong Open prior to Christmas, before lurking just outside the top 10 at the SA Open in the New Year before being forced to withdraw due to a stomach illness.
But Rumford will face some stiff competition, with recent Asian Tour Q-School winner Richard Green also indicating he’ll tee it up in his home state.
The three-time European Tour champion capped off a fairy tale week in 2015 by claiming his first Oates Vic Open title just moments after fiancée Marianne Skarpnord won the women’s event.
Local Green will take to 13th Beach on the back of one of his strongest performances in recent years, his four-round 28-under total and a playoff birdie at Q-School in January leaving the veteran primed for a big week in Barwon Heads.
Headline act Robert Allenby won’t be the only big name with experience playing in the US, with former PGA Tour player Aron Price also a confirmed starter.
Former PGA Tour player and crowd favourite Jarrod Lyle is also back in 2017 for another crack at a maiden ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia crown.
He’ll be joined by fellow Victorian Ash Hall, the 33-year-old likely to be one of the favourites at 13th Beach after returning to career-best form prior to Christmas.
The 2009 Oates Vic Open champion is coming off a stunning Australian Summer of Golf that resulted in a brave playoff loss at the Emirates Australian Open and a T4 finish at the Australian PGA Championship on the Gold Coast a fortnight later.
Spectators making the trip to 13th Beach will also get the opportunity to share the fairways with a number of other familiar faces, such as ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia regulars Nick Cullen, Matt Millar, Adam Blyth, Jordan Zunic and the big-hitting Lincoln Tighe.
A trio of rising Victorian stars will also have the chance to make a name for themselves at their home state Open, with Lucas Herbert, Ben Eccles and Geoff Drakeford all hunting a first ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia win.
Also hoping to impress will be 15 of the country’s top amateurs. Victorian Matias Sanchez is coming off a nail-biting win at January’s Australian Amateur Championship, the 18-year-old taking down West Australian young gun Min Woo Lee on a marathon 36-hole final day.
That duo will resume hostilities at the 2017 Oates Vic Open, with promising New South Welshmen Harrison Endycott and Travis Smyth to ensure the battle for low amateur honours is a tight one.
Kiwi Michael Long will be back in 2017 to defend his third ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia title as one of a number of former men’s champions teeing it up.
Along with Green, Allenby and Hall, last year’s ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit winner Matt Griffin and two-time winner Stephen Leaney (1995, ’97) are also teeing it up.
Other former champions confirmed for the 2017 Oates Vic Open are Jason Norris (2010), Kurt Barnes (2005), New Zealand’s Gareth Paddison (2004), Geelong local Brad Lamb (2000) and Matthew Giles (2013).