A new year brings new opportunities for Professional golfers on the PGA Tour of Australasia with the season teeing off this morning at the Oates Vic Open.

The first half of the 2016 PGA Tour of Australasia season is jam packed with quality tournaments being played across quality venues with all players hoping to get the year off to a good start.

"Bigger prize purses and increased playing opportunities is the aim for 2016 and the front half of the PGA Tour of Australasia season is certainly reflective of this objective," said Brian Thorburn, CEO of the PGA of Australia which manages the Tour.

"A number of tournaments have increased their prize money this year with the Oates Vic Open leading the way as Golf Victoria continues to take its flagship tournament to the next level."

"But it's not all about the prize cheque, we also aim for players competing on the PGA Tour of Australasia to have pathways to overseas Tours. With the Perth International once again on the schedule, the winner will be fully exempt onto the European Tour and Asian Tour, the tournaments sanctioning partners," added Thorburn.  

The action teed off this week at the Oates Vic Open at 13th Beach Golf Links at Barwon Heads. Always a highlight on the Tour's schedule, it sees the men joined on course by their female counterparts as the ALPG's Women's Victorian Open is played concurrently.

The concept is unique to golf and as such draws interest from plenty of high profile players. This year Richard Green is back to defend his title and if he does manage to go back-to-back he will be rewarded with an even bigger prize cheque with the prize money increased to $300,000 for each of the men's and the women's Championships.

Also drawn to the seaside holiday town for the Oates Women's Vic Open is Australia's second highest ranked female Professional and seven time Major champion, Karrie Webb.

From Barwon Heads the PGA Tour of Australasia heads back to the Melbourne Sandbelt for the Mercedes-Benz Truck and Bus Victorian PGAChampionship which has also experienced an increase in prize money.

Being played at Huntingdale Golf Club, the tournament sees the Professionals joined by celebrities and avid amateur golfers in a pro-am format from 9-12 February.

Along with Professionals the calibre of Nick Cullen, Peter O'Malley and defending champion Aaron Townsend, famous faces that will be gracing the fairways include Todd Woodbridge, Ricky Ponting and Damien Fleming.

Following a week's break, the PGA Tour of Australasia willonce again be back in action for the Perth International to be played at LakeKarrinyup Country Club from 25-28 February for $1.75million.

With an earlier position in the season both the on course performances and temperatures are expected to be hot with defending champion Thorbjorn Olesen from Denmark returning and bringing with him a host of European Tour players including Victor Dubuisson and Louis Oosthuizen for the tri-sanctioned event which will also see Asian Tour stars in action.

From Perth to Auckland the PGA Tour of Australasia will then spend two week's competing in New Zealand.

The Holden NZ PGA Championship will for the second year be played at Remuera Golf Club from 3-6 March with a prize purse of NZ$125,000 on offer.

Matthew Millar, the 2015 PGA Tour of Australasia Player of the Year, will be returning to defend his first Professional title however he will have a host of New Zealand Professionals vying to see their national title back in Kiwi hands.

Queenstown and the BMW ISPS Handa New Zealand Open is thenext stop on Tour and while golf is the main focus the stunning destinationnever fails to offer some off course highlights.

Played at The Hills and Millbrook Resort in a pro-am format,the week is a celebration of golf and is a favourite of many players with the quality of the field a testament to the tournament which boasts total prize money of NZ$1million.

Jordan Zunic who made headlines last year winning thetournament in just his third start as a Professional is set to return and willbe joined by New Zealand's second highest ranked player in the world, Ryan Fox,and New Zealand's favourite adopted golfer; Aussie Peter Fowler.

Returning back to Australia, the Coca-Cola Queensland PGA Championship will cap off the four week stretch of golf with the tournament once again to be played at the City Golf Club in Toowoomba.

A course which traditionally produces low scores players will need to be chasing birdies, or back-to-back eagles as was the case with last year's champion Ryan Fox,  if they hope to take out the title and winner's share of the $125,000 prize purse.

The PGA Tour of Australasia will then take a five week break before heading back to Western Australia for the WA Open Championship to be played at Western Australia Golf Club from 28 April – 1 May and the WA PGA Championship at Kalgoorlie Golf Course from 12-15 May.

The change of scheduling of the Western Australian tournaments from the traditional end of year slot is hoped to attract stronger fields to the tournaments.        

"Every year the players on the PGA Tour of Australasia produce thrilling and memorable moments, I look forward to watching the 2016 season unfold and I wish all the players the best of luck," added Thorburn.

For the front end of the 2016 PGA Tour of Australasia schedule, please visit pga.org.au.

As a member of the International Federation of PGA Tours, all tournaments on the PGA Tour of Australasia carry Official World Golf Ranking points.

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