GOLF Victoria has signed an agreement with the Ladies European Tour (LET) that will see the women’s event at the 2017 Oates Vic Open co-sanctioned with Europe’s leading women’s professional golf tour.
The Oates Vic Open, to be held at 13th Beach Golf Links from February 9-12, is currently the only professional event in the world that stages both men’s and women’s championships concurrently at the same venue, and this new agreement will add substantial strength to the women’s side of the already prominent tournament.
In 2016, LET member Georgia Hall (England) claimed her maiden professional title after leading the tournament wire-to-wire and holding off fellow LET members Nanna Madsen (Denmark) and defending champion Marianne Skarpnord (Norway). Hall, who was 19 at the time of the victory, brought the tournament phrase “where stars are born” to life, going on to record eight more top-10 finishes in the season.
Golf Victoria CEO Simon Brookhouse is thrilled to have secured LET sanctioning, stating it was a natural progression for the event.
VIDEO: 2017 VIC OPEN LAUNCH
“We’re very pleased the 2017 Oates Vic Open will be co-sanctioned on the LET along with the ALPG Tour and the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia on the men’s side. It was always our goal and intention to progress to LET status and we must give special thanks to the Victorian Government for helping us make this happen with the additional funding they announced on December 9 last year at our official launch,” said Brookhouse.
“Being on a worldwide tour like the LET attracts higher-ranked players, an increase in world ranking points on offer and provides the potential for a young Australian to secure full LET status with a victory.
“Through the increased reach of the LET platforms, the fantastic facility at 13th Beach Golf Links will be showcased globally and we’re excited to highlight Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula to wider international audiences.”
The LET is one of the world’s premier women’s professional tours and, in 2016, counted 325 professional golfers from around the globe as members, including 30 athletes from 20 countries who competed in the historic Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The 2017 Oates Vic Open was warmly welcomed to the LET calendar by the tour’s CEO, Ivan Peter Khodabakhsh.
“2017 promises to be another great year for the LET and we are delighted that our season will start in Australia on February 9 with the Oates Vic Open, which is a mixed event and the only one of its kind on the global stage.
“With both the men’s and women’s fields playing on the same courses, for equal prize money, this event promises to be a very special week in world golf.”
While 2017 will mark the first time that the Oates Vic Open has been sanctioned by the LET, the tournament has been graced by many European players in its recent history. The 2016 women’s field played host to 48 LET members, including eight players who finished inside the top-10.
Acting Minister for Sport, Philip Dalidakis, said the Victorian Government was pleased by the news of the co-sanctioning agreement.
“The sanctioning of the Oates Vic Open on the LET means it is now truly an international event. As well as attracting some of the best female golfers, this move will help us showcase the very best of Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula to the world,” Minister Dalidakis said.
City of Greater Geelong General Manager Investment & Attraction, Brett Luxford, was equally thrilled to see the tournament gain LET status.
“This worldwide tour brings some of the highest-ranked international female golfers to Greater Geelong,” Mr Luxford said.
“The event broadens Geelong’s image, showcasing our beautiful region to a wide audience throughout Europe and the rest of Australia. This is a Solheim Cup year providing incentive for players from Europe to play in the event prior to the ISPS HANDA Women’s Australian Open in Adelaide.”