The honour roll of winners of the prestigious Victorian Open reads like a who’s who of Australian and world golf.
Names such as South African Gary Player – one of five men to complete golf’s grand slam by winning all four major tournaments – have triumphed in the tournament’s rich history. The names of Australians to have won major championships that adorn the trophy are Peter Thomson, Kel Nagle, Ian Baker-Finch, David Graham and Greg Norman.
A quality field has been assembled for the PGA Tour of Australasia’s 2013 Vic Open, being played for the first time at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links in Barwon Heads and carries a total prize pool of $300,000 to be split evenly between both men and women.
With defending champion Scott Arnold overseas competing on the European Tour for the first time, a new name is set to be added to the illustrious list of past winners.
Or, will we see a previous champion again be crowned the champion golfer of Victoria?
Next week’s field boasts eight past winners of the tournament – Paul Sheehan (2011), Jason Norris (2010), Kim Felton (2007), New Zealand’s Gareth Paddison (2004), Andre Stolz (2002), Scott Laycock (2001), Brad Lamb (2000) and Michael Clayton (1982, 1989).
That number could be boosted as 2006 winner David Diaz will attempt to earn his spot via next Monday’s pre-qualifying rounds.
Laycock holds the tournament record of 270, which he set on the way to winning at Cranbourne and has already tasted professional success in the region, winning the Surf Coast Knockout at The Sands Torquay two years ago.
Clayton won nine times in his two decades competing on the PGA Tour of Australasia and on the European Tour before turning his hand to golf course design. He is currently in partnership with former US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, another player who started his career in the Vic Open.
Clayton has received a special invite to tee up in the February 21-24 tournament being played on the testing Beach Course layout at Thirteenth Beach – along with former Australian PGA winner Phil Tataurangi, from New Zealand. Tataurangi, like Stolz, has won on the US PGA Tour in the past.
Lamb won the Open as an amateur back in 2000, beating Swede Jens Nilsson in a play-off. He is now based in Geelong where he works as a teaching pro. Lamb has regained full playing status on the PGA Tour of Australasia this year and has been in great form on the Victorian Pro-Am circuit, where he leads the Order of Merit, making him a player to watch over the four days.
Tournament Director David Greenhill said it was fantastic to see so many past winners continuing to support the tournament.
“The Vic Open continues to play a major role for Australia’s up and coming professional golfers,” Greenhill said.
“Without this tournament it would be that much more difficult for our rookie professionals and emerging amateurs to gain the experience needed to challenge for the bigger national events and ultimately progress to the major overseas tours.
“It’s also great to see so many players that are already establishing a foothold overseas coming back to support this tournament.
“Golf Victoria is committed to continue developing both the Men’s and Women’s Victorian Opens into key events that underpin the major national titles.’’
For all the up-to-date news regarding the 2013 Vic Open, check Golf Victoria’s website, www.golfvic.org.au and follow @VicOpenGolf on twitter.
By: Bradley Green (Vic Open Freelancer)