Mel Reid made the perfect start to 2017 when she won the Oates Vic Open 12 months ago, but a back injury played havoc with the rest of her season.
After weeks of rehabilitation and uncertainty about whether she would be able to play or not, doctors finally gave the Solheim Cup star the all clear to travel to Australia on Thursday last week – and she was delighted.
Speaking at 13th Beach Golf Links in Barwon Heads on Tuesday, she said: “Whenever you defend a title, it’s always very, very, nice. It was certainly one of my favourite weeks last year and this is where I wanted to start my 2018 season. I enjoyed the golf course. It sets up well for my eye and I’ve played some relatively decent golf. Wherever you’ve won, you have some good memories.”
Reid explained that she injured herself doing household chores. “This is why I shouldn’t do housework! I did it picking something up out of the dishwasher, so obviously I can’t do that anymore! I slipped a disc and I played the season with it, which was fine. It repaired itself and then I did it again in about September. I bulged one of my discs and I probably shouldn’t have played from September onwards, but I did, and that was a mistake. My instinct was saying not to play but I carried on and did a bit of damage to it really, so I shouldn’t have done that. My main goal this winter was to get healthy and I only got the all clear what, two days ago, so I only booked my flight on Thursday night. I haven’t hit many golf balls, so it could be a good thing, or it could be a bad thing, I’m not sure.
“My goal in the winter was to get fit and healthy and I’ve managed to do that to about 75, 80 percent. I’ve not got huge expectations this week, but I’d definitely like to put myself in some sort of contention.”
Aside from great memories and a phenomenal golf course, another important reason for returning was the unique format of playing in alternate groups with the men’s Vic Open field and sharing an equal prize fund.
“There’s lots of equality chat going on at the minute all over the world and the prize money for the guys is obviously much more on the PGA Tour than the LPGA. I don’t find that very acceptable and so it’s nice to have a tournament where it is equal,” she said. “It’s great for the girls and great publicity for us. I hope that the guys enjoy us being around as well. For me, there should be way more tournaments like this at the same venue. I think it would be fantastic for golf.”
The 30-year-old from Derby will get her 2018 season under way at 12:20 local time on Thursday, when she tees off alongside fellow former champions Minjee Lee and Marianne Skarpnord on the Creek Course.