Date: February 20, 2013

Sarah Jane Smith primed for big Vic Open showing

Queensland golfer Sarah Jane Smith knows exactly which holes she needs to take advantage of if she’s to win this week’s Victorian Women’s Open at Thirteenth Beach.

Two par fours on the Creek course of the popular Barwon Heads facility have been transformed into par fives for the tournament. Overall, there’s six par fives the ladies field will play for the first two days before they switch to the Beach course over the weekend.

Smith had her first look at the course during Wednesday’s Pro-am and believes the Creek course could give up some low scores if the conditions are favourable.

“Those par fives, you’ve really got to take advantage of them when you have the opportunity to do so,” Smith said.

“I’m sure they’ll put some sneaky little pins out there as well for us and, if we don’t get much wind, then the scores are going to be really low. Everyone is going to have to shoot some good numbers to keep up.  But I’m really looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be a great week.

“I’m originally from Geelong, so it’s nice to come back home and see some family as well.”

The 28-year-old comes to Barwon Heads primed to break through for her first professional victory on home soil. She finished tied for fifth at the recent New Zealand Open and backed up with a top 20 result at the Australian Women’s Open in Canberra last week.

“A win is something I definitely want to achieve out here in Australia,” Smith, who plays on the LPGA Tour in America, said.

The world No.133 made 13 cuts from 17 starts in America last year with two top 10 finishes.

She said her game had significantly improved since she started working with her new coach, Orlando-based Tony Ziegler, almost 12 months ago.

“Since then I’ve only missed one cut,” Smith said. “Everything has just become a lot simpler. He’s just helped me so much. I don’t need to be with him constantly to understand what I’m doing and he’s made a huge difference to my game.”

Smith is part of a marquee grouping for the opening two rounds, playing alongside England’s Laura Davies and fellow Aussie Rebecca Artis.

That group hits off from the 10th tee at 8am on Thursday – to be followed by Stacey Keating, Nikki Campbell and highly-rated amateur Su-Hyun Oh.

In last year’s Women’s Vic Open, Smith recovered from a disastrous opening round to finish tied for 15th. She believes the concept of the men and women playing together in a professional tournament is fantastic.

“Especially for the ladies, we had the Australian Open last week and lot of the top girls have stayed on to come down here and play in a really great event,” Smith said.

The men’s and women’s tournaments both carry prizemoney of $150,000.

For all the up-to-date news regarding the 2013 Vic Open, check Golf Victoria’s website, and follow @VicOpenGolf on Twitter.

By: Bradley Green (Vic Open Freelancer)