Reigning Oates Vic Open champion Mel Reid won’t be the only Englishwoman in the field with a target on her back in 2018, with 2016 champion Georgia Hall also locked in to make her first trip back to 13th Beach from February 1-4.
Hall has committed to returning to Barwon Heads for the first time since the victory that kick-started her professional career after missing the chance to defend her crown in 2017. Since winning her second professional title at the Oates Vic Open as a 19-year-old Hall has soared to 40th in the world rankings following a sensational 2017 Ladies European Tour season that saw her comfortably top the Order of Merit.
Hall cracked the top 10 on seven occasions from just 10 LET starts this season, including a career-best finish in a major with a T3 result at the Women’s British Open. Hall debuted for Team Europe – alongside Reid – at the Solheim Cup in August and last month the 21-year-old stormed home at Q-School to secure her maiden LPGA Tour card for 2018. But Hall won’t wear the tag of defending champion come February 1, with Reid gunning for her seventh professional crown – and seventh LET title – after committing to return to the Oates Vic Open.
Reid will hit the Bellarine Peninsula hot off the back of her rookie season on the LPGA Tour, which included a third appearance at The Solheim Cup for Europe. The 30-year-old broke through for her first win in almost two years in February when she overcame Germany’s Sandra Gal in a tense three-hole playoff. With the Oates Vic Open kickstarting a bumper month of men’s and women’s golf across Australia in the new year, the English duo will have another strong field to contend with across the four rounds at 13th Beach.
Victorian Minister for Sport and Recreation John Eren applauded the announcement. “We can’t wait to welcome back recent champions Mel and Georgia to Barwon Heads,” Eren said.
“We’re working hard to maintain our status as Australia’s home of golf – having already locked in the Presidents Cup in 2019 and the Australia Open in 2020 and 2022.” “The flow on effects from these types of events are huge – they give visitors another reason to come to Victoria and make our economy stronger.”
City of Greater Geelong Mayor Cr. Bruce Harwood is also looking forward to welcoming golf fans from across the state to Barwon Heads. “The City is proud to sponsor the 2018 Oates Vic Open and with the return of past winners Mel and Georgia, it’s set to be an event not to be missed,” said Harwood. “This course is fantastic for spectators as you can walk alongside the players on the fairways. Make sure you’re part of the action at 13th Beach as these champions battle it out in February.”
The Oates Vic Open is the only golf tournament of its kind around the world, with the men’s and women’s fields competing on the same courses, at the same time, for an equal share in the prize money. In 2018, the combined purse will be a minimum of $1.3 million, meaning the men and women will each battle it out in Barwon Heads for a share of $650,000.
Those unable to make the trip to Barwon Heads in February will still be able to watch the weekend’s action with the return of the Oates Vic Open live stream. Hosted on Facebook LIVE and YouTube, fans across Australia and around the world will be able to follow the final 36 holes of the tournament thanks to the Oates Vic Open’s professional broadcast team. Find out more about the 2018 Oates Vic Open at www.vicopengolf.com.