The European Tour heads Down Under for the second time on the 2020 Race to Dubai this week. Here are five things to know ahead of this week’s ISPS Handa Vic Open.
This week, both men and women are competing for their respective ISPS Handa Vic Open titles. Both events are being contested at 13th Beach Golf Links on the Bellarine Peninsula with men and women alternating tee times on the Beach and Creek Courses.
A 36-hole cut will reduce both tournaments to the top 60 players and ties, with the final two rounds to be played solely on the Beach Course. A 54-hole cut will then reduce the field to the top 35 and ties for the final round, again on the Beach Course.
Competitors are playing for a total prize fund of AUD$3.2million, with AUD$1.6million prize purses to be split between both the men’s and women’s competitions.
The men’s tournament is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australia, while the women’s event is co-sanctioned by the LPGA and ALPG Tour.
Last year’s victor, David Law, became the first player from Europe to win the ISPS Handa Vic Open title in its 59-year history.
Prior to that, South African Gary Player, who won in 1959, and 1988 winner Jim Benepe, of the United States, were the only non-Australian or New Zealand competitors to have lifted the Vic Open trophy.
Both Law and the 2019 women’s champion Céline Boutier have returned to Barwon Heads to defend their titles. It was Law’s first European Tour victory and also Boutier’s first LPGA title.
Herbert’s happy homecoming
Lucas Herbert will return to Australia a European Tour winner after securing his first title just two weeks ago at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
The 24-year-old defeated Christiaan Bezuidenhout in a play-off at Emirates GC to win his first professional title.
Herbert grew up in the city of Bendigo, which is just 200 kilometres north of this week’s Vic Open venue in the state of Victoria. Expect plenty of support from family and friends for the youngster this week.
Ormsby aiming to go one better
Another recent winner heading for the Vic Open this week is Wade Ormsby, who won the rescheduled Hong Kong Open last month. It was the 39-year-old’s first victory since lifting the same trophy in 2017.
Ormsby narrowly missed out on last year’s Vic Open title as he finished one stroke behind Law. After 11 consecutive pars from the sixth to the 16th holes, he was still leading as he stood on the 17th tee before Law eagled the 18th to move ahead.
An unfortunate double bogey on the 17th by Ormsby meant that he also needed to eagle the 18th to force a play-off, but he had to settle for a birdie and a share of second place.
Ormsby is in form at the start of this season, with a third placed finish at the Australian PGA Championship just before the festive break in addition to his Hong Kong Open title.
There are Major Champions in both fields this week. 2006 U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy tees it up in the men’s competition, and no fewer than 11 Major winners are set for the women’s competition.
Ogilvy became the first Australian to win a Major Championship in more than a decade as he finished one stroke ahead of Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie. In addition to his U.S. Open crown, he is a winner of three World Golf Championships, including two Match Play titles and the WGC-CA Championship (now WGC-Mexico Championship).
Hannah Green became the first female Australian Major Champion since Karrie Webb in 2006 with her victory at last year’s Women’s PGA Championship at Hazeltine – seven-time Major Champion Webb is also teeing it up this week.
Another seven-time Major winner and Olympic Gold Medallist Inbee Park, of South Korea, is joined by four-time Major Champion Laura Davies and 2019 U.S. Women’s Open winner Jeongeun Lee to name but a few of the female Major winners this week.