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Stars Assemble for Ever-Growing Oates Vic Open

13th Beach Golf Links in the coastal town of Barwon Heads will stage the Oates Vic Open for sixth consecutive year. (Photo: Golf Victoria)
The Oates Victorian Open begins on Thursday at 13th Beach Golf Links with all 10 previous champions since the simultaneous men’s and women’s event moved to the Bellarine Peninsula in 2013 in action.

The PGA Tour of Australasia joins forces with the ALPG and Ladies European Tours to sanction the Golf Victoria owned event with equal prizemoney of $650,000 for both the men’s and women’s events at stake.

The respective fields play simultaneously over the Beach and Creek courses at 13th Beach on Thursday and Friday before the field is cut to the leading 60 players and ties per event.

After Saturday's third round, a second cut will be made to the leading 35 players plus ties (professionals and amateurs) for both men and women.

The decision in 2013 to move the event from Spring Valley Golf Club on the edge of Melbourne’s sandbelt to the 36-hole facility at Barwon Heads on the Bellarine Peninsula was seen at the time to be an adventurous one by Golf Victoria but there is little doubting the success of the initiative.

Growing from a $150,000 event (for both the men’s and women’s Opens) in its early stages to the $650,000 it is now, the Oates Victorian Open continues to attract the interest of the Australian golfing public, because of its unique format, but increased support from the Victorian Government has also played a major role in the event's growth.

Minjee Lee will be the main drawcard at this week's Victorian Open at 13th Beach.

The leading world ranked female in this year’s event is Australia’s Minjee Lee who won the title in 2014 as a 17-year-old amateur before embarking on an outstanding career on the LPGA Tour.

She will be joined by fellow Australian LPGA Tour players Su Oh and the highly promising Hannah Green who are rushing back from the LPGA Tour's opening tournament in the Bahamas last week to support the Vic Open. 

Other recent winners of the women’s event, Stacey Keating, Marianne Skarpnord, Georgia Hall and defending champion Mel Reid will attract their share of attention while all five previous men’s winners at 13th Beach, Matt Giles, Matthew Griffin, Richard Green, Michael Long and Dimi Papadatos boost that line-up.  

The men’s field is headed in terms of world ranking by New Zealander Michael Hendry who has developed into a successful player on the Japan Golf Tour and who is the current ISPS Handa New Zealand Open Champion.

South Australian Adam Bland gave the Australian PGA Championship a real shake two months ago before finishing 3rd behind Cameron Smith and Jordan Zunic and having finished runner-up to Dimi Papadatos last year at 13th Beach stands a good chance of going one better in 2018.

The event will be live streamed over the final 36 holes and delayed coverage will be shown on Fox Sports in the evening of the final two days. 

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