With most players having a good break over the Christmas period they will need to switch back into competition mode with a prize purse of $300,000 on offer.
While there isn't much recent form to gauge from there are plenty of talented players in the field this week so top quality golf is sure to be on display at 13th Beach Golf Links in Barwon Heads.
Five players we anticipate to be in the mix this week are:
Nick Cullen – The left-handed South Australian has proven himself on Australia's biggest stages; winning the 2014 Australian Masters then finishing in the top-5 at last year's Emirates Australian Open to book a spot at The Open this year. Nick returns to 13th Beach with memories of finishing runner-up last year to Richard Green. A player of his talent is sure to shine again on a course which suited him so well in 2015 and we expect to see him battling it out in the final group again this year.
James Nitties – A huge fan of Australian golf courses, James is a player who relishes competing on challenging tracks. With two courses to conquer this week the Beach Course and Creek Course are sure to have James in his element. A player who can produce good performances under pressure we saw James win the South Pacific Open Championship last year and is likely to be in the mix again this week.
Ben Eccles – It's hard to go past Ben this week who is sure to be the local favourite at 13th Beach. Having grown up in Torquay he knows both the courses in play this week like the back of his hand and will enjoy the support of the local crowd. This will be the first time he has played the Vic Open as a Professional, having made the switch to the Pro ranks the week after winning the NSW Open as an amateur. Last year he finished tied 3rd at the Oates Vic Open and this year, when he is able to claim the cash, he will be hoping for an even better finish.
Deyen Lawson – Another local, Deyen completed his PGA Traineeship at the Curlewis Golf Club, just down the road from 13th Beach, before earning his status on Tour via Qualifying School this year. During his time as a Trainee he dominated their playing circuit proving he has plenty of game and talent. This competitive experience will likely see him make a smooth transition onto the PGA Tour of Australasia made even easier by his local knowledge this week. Deyen will also enjoy competing in the tournament where his girlfriend, Alexandra Orchard, is also competing at 13th Beach in the Women's Vic Open. The pair will be aiming to become the next Richard Green and Marianne Skarpnord; the engaged pair last year taking out the Vic Open titles.
David Micheluzzi (amateur): The Victorian 19-year-old will be running a fierce battle for low amateur this week which should also see him positioned high on the Oates Vic Open leaderboard. Competing in just his second PGA Tour of Australasia tournament, after missing the cut at the 2014 NSW Open, David is in excellent form and a hot tip this week amongst those in the know with amateur golf. He was a member of the winning Victorian State Team and runner-up at the Victorian Amateur champion. A player that packs plenty of power, he will be able to match it with even the biggest hitters on Tour this week.
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Back to School
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Griffin's Order of Merit opportunities
A long week, lots of calculations and a childhood dream.