In a unique format to global professional golf, the ISPS Handa Vic Open makes its debut on the European Tour, as both male and female professional golfers head down under.
A new look
Although there will be separate championships for men and women, both events will be contested at 13th Beach Golf Links in Barwon Heads, Victoria. All four rounds will be played in alternating men’s and women’s tee times on the Beach and Creek Courses.
A 36-hole cut will reduce each tournament to the top 65 players and ties and send both competitions to the Beach Course, before a 54-hole cut once again reduces each field to the top 35 golfers and ties for the final round, again on the Beach Course.
The men’s tournament is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia, while the women’s event is co-sanctioned by the LPGA and the ALPGA Tour.
Support for the event has come from the Victorian State Government, the City of Greater Geelong, ISPS Handa, and the Transport Accident Commission. The 2019 edition offers a combined AUD $3 million in prize funds and will see an equal share, AUD $1.5 million, allocated to the men’s and women’s championships — a remarkable ten-fold increase in purse size from the first time the concurrent men’s and women’s events were held at 13th Beach Golf Links in 2013.
Same, but different
Despite featuring on the European Tour International Schedule for the first time, the men’s professional tournament began in 1957. Notable past champions include World Golf Hall of Fame Member Gary Player (1959), and two of Australia’s greatest golfers, Greg Norman (1984) and Ian Baker-Finch (1985). Since 2012, the men’s tournament has been held alongside the Women’s Victoria Open and in 2013 the two events were moved to the singular location at 13th Beach Golf Links.
Native Victorian Geoff Ogilvy will look to add a trophy missing from his collection when he aims to win his home state Open for the first time this year.
The 2006 U.S. Open Champion has a decorated history when competing at home. Having finished as the low amateur during his first three appearances in the Vic Open, the Australian has gone on to have a stellar career including a Major Championship triumph, three World Golf Championship wins and a total of 12 worldwide professional victories.
The 41 year old is still without his local title, though, and he will be hungrier than ever to go one better than his runner-up finish in the event as an amateur in 1997.
Now part of the Race to Dubai, the ISPS Handa Vic Open will feature many notable names from the European Tour.
In addition to Major Champion Ogilvy, the likes of Ryder Cup winner Nicolas Colsaerts, Matteo Manassero – the youngest winner in European Tour history – and British Masters and GolfSixes winner Paul Dunne will do battle on the Australian coast.
Fan-favourite Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston will also be tee it up and is eager to make his return to the southern hemisphere.
“It’s awesome to be coming back to Australia so soon,” Johnston said. “With guys like Geoff Ogilvy and the like out there I’m going to have to bring my A game.”