In an incredible show of support from the players, all 10 Oates Vic Open champions from the past five years will tee it up at 13th Beach Golf Links in 2018.
With a further six past champions entered into the men’s field, the 2018 Oates Vic Open will be stacked with players looking to recreate history.
On the women’s side, reigning champ Mel Reid is back to defend her 2017 crown along with her English counterpart and 2016 winner Georgia Hall.
Hall missed the chance to go back-to-back last year and will be making her first trip back to Barwon Heads since the win that catapulted her professional career.
Reigning men’s champion Dimi Papadatos will no doubt be looking to recreate his two-stroke triumph of twelve months ago, while Kiwi Michael Long will be out to recreate the week in 2016 that delivered his seventh professional win.
A repeat of 2015’s fairy tale is also on the cards from February 1, with Victorian Richard Green and Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord also signed on to tee it up at their home layout.
Then engaged and barely a week after moving into their new home at 13th Beach, the duo pulled off the unthinkable by winning the men’s and women’s events less than an hour apart.
Skarpnord held off a strong challenge from then 18-year-old Su Oh on the final day to record a three-shot win – but the nerves lingered for the Norwegian.
Playing in the day’s penultimate group, Green reeled in the overnight leaders with a closing 67 to set up a playoff with fellow left-hander Nick Cullen.
With his fiancée and the new women’s champion watching on from behind the 18th, Green stuck to the script and eclipsed Cullen on the second sudden death hole to ensure it was double delight for the couple.
Australia’s highest-ranked female golfer Minjee Lee has committed to returning to the scene of her 2014 triumph, the World Number 19 still the only female to win the Oates Vic Open as an amateur.
Meanwhile, fellow 2014 champion Matt Griffin will be hoping to add another home state open to his resume after a strong 2017 season on the Japan Tour.
The first pair to claim the Oates Vic Open at 13th Beach make up the perfect 10, with Victorian Stacey Keating and NSW’s Matt Giles also set to tee it up.
The group of remaining former men’s champions is headlined by 1991 winner Robert Allenby, who is one of only two amateurs to take out the title along with Brad Lamb (2000). Lamb is currently listed as an alternate.
Two-time champ Stephen Leaney (1995, ’97) will be joined by fellow former champs Scott Laycock (2001), GarethPaddison (2004), Ash Hall (2009) and Scott Arnold (2012) in this year’s field.
When Giles and Keating saluted five years ago in 2013 the combined prize pool was $300,000 shared equally between the men and the women.
That figure had doubled to a combined $600,000 by 2016, before the Oates Vic Open became a $1 million event last year.
In 2018, the men’s and women’s field will battle it out for the biggest purse in the event’s history – a cool $1.3 million.
Not only will there be more money up for grabs than ever before, the 2018 Oates Vic Open is sure to attract the largest viewership in the tournament’s history.
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