Date: January 28, 2014
Author: Golf Victoria

Young talent time in February at Oates Vic Open

The saying where stars are born has never been truer for an Oates Victorian Open Championship. For a tournament renowned as helping launch the careers of some of the best Professional golfers in the history of the game including Gary Player, Greg Norman and Adam Scott, this year s field is spoilt with amateur talent. Metropolitan s Su-Hyun Oh and Minjee Lee from Western Australia head a star amateur contingent for the 2014 Oates Women’s Vic Open, while teenage prodigies Ryan Ruffels from Victoria, and newly crowned Victorian Men’sAmateur Champion Zach Murray, spearhead a strong men’s amateur contingent for the PGA Tour of Australasia tournament. Looking back to last year, winners Stacey Keating (Victoria) and Matthew Giles (N.S.W) both won at the amateur level prior to competing as Professionals in the 2013 Championship. In 2006 Stacey won the Victorian Amateur Championship and by 2010 she was ranked as the world s number 2 amateur. Matthew Giles won the World Junior Golf championship by eight strokes in 2006 and was third at the event in 2007. Shortly after the 2007 event, he was recruited to play collegiate golf for the University of Southern California in the US. He earned All-American honours as one of the best collegiate golfers in the NCAA. With some stunning performances prior to Christmas, the many elite amateurs in the respective men’s and women’s fields will no doubt push the defending champions to be in top form come the 2014 Oates Vic Open to be played from February 20-23 at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links. The 2013 Women’s Victorian Amateur Championship was won by World amateur no. 2 Oh, in a tightly contested match against World amateur no. 5 Lee. Oh also became the first back-to-back winner of the Women’s Victorian Amateur since Natalie Parkinson in 1997/98. Lee also boasts a fine amateur record, winning the 2013 Australian Women’s Amateur Championship and the 2012 US Girls&apos Junior Championship. David Greenhill, Chief Operating Officer at Golf Victoria witnessed the Vic Amateur contest between Oh and Lee, describing the performance as second to none. Over the 34 holes played, Oh was a staggering 17-under par. It was women’s golf of an exceptional standard that would rival the best anywhere. I personally have never seen women’s amateur golf played like that before. Both players were on top of their games showing why they are two of the best amateurs in the world. From a golf lovers perspective, we re fortunate that both are competing again in February at Thirteenth Beach during the Oates Vic Open, said Greenhill. At just 16 years of age, Victorian, Zach Murray became the second youngest Men’sVictorian Amateur champion last December. Having only started playing golf at the age of 10, the Albury teenager s win in a tournament of that magnitude is nothing short of amazing. The victory earnt Murray an amateur exemption for the 2014 Oates Vic Open and the opportunity to test himself against some of Australia s best young Professionals. John Anderson, High Performance Manager at Golf Victoria, describes Zach as, A very exciting young talent, who continues to mature on and off the course at a rapid rate. His win at the Victorian Amateur is just a taste of things to come and the Oates Victorian Open is a great opportunity to test his game against some of the best young Professionals in the country. Two exciting young Victorian s who have enjoyed a patch of good results recently are Jack Wilson and Nathan Holman. Wilson won the 2010 Victorian Amateur shortly before turning Professional when he commenced his PGA Traineeship in 2011. In October last year, Wilson made history becoming the first PGA Trainee to win a PGA Tour of Australasia event, taking out the Western Australian PGA Championship. Just a month later, Wilson challenged for the Australian PGA Championship at Royal Pines, finishing third behind Rickie Fowler and winner Adam Scott. Scott was quoted as saying, Wilson could be Australia s next golfing great. We might be looking at one of the best players to come out of Australia. I wish him the best for the rest of the summer. We should be encouraging guys like that to keep at it, said Scott. Holman, the 2011 Victorian Amateur champion, played alongside Scott at the Talisker Masters last November and at one point was tied with Scott for the lead. Further, Holman narrowly missed out on a playoff in last year s Victorian Open as an amateur. He will no doubt be looking to win the tournament this year to notch up his first victory as a Pro having turned Professional in October last year. If there was ever a year to see some of the best young Australian golfers in the world compete, then this is the year!