Vic Open to kick off Australasian Tour
BY Bruce Young | Von Nida Tour | 2009 Victorian Open | Preview | 27 Jan 2009
The Australasian PGA Tour is guaranteed a hot start in 2009 but it may not necessarily be for all the right reasons.
With temperatures expected to be in the early 40’s for the next few days in Melbourne it will be a tough battle at the 2009 Victorian Open for the field of 156 who will line up at the Spring Valley Golf Club in Melbourne’s famed sandbelt region.
While not one of the higher profile of Melbourne’s sandbelt courses, Spring Valley is nonetheless highly regarded by the Melbourne golfing community and this year the Vern Morcom designed, Mike Clayton remodelled layout gets its chance to showcase its features at this level.
The Victorian Open and other former Von Nida Tour events now come under the umbrella of the Australasian Tour and as such are potentially strengthened. Not only does the prizemoney now count towards the Australasian Tour Order of Merit but the events also now count towards the number events a player accumulates on the Australasian Tour.
It therefore provides a player the option of playing this event and next week’s Victorian PGA Championship at Sanctuary Lakes and having two of the minimum of four events he needs to be eligible for Order of Merit status in 2009.
The timing of this event and next week’s Victorian PGA Championship is ideal in terms of a lead up to the Johnnie Walker Classic in three weeks time at the Vines resort in Perth. Provided everybody comes through the heatwave conditions in Melbourne therefore, the event should kick start the new look Australasian Tour well.
The field boasts the previous seven winners of the Victorian Open, the last being Kim Felton who is gearing his game for another tilt at the Nationwide Tour where he has status courtesy of his win there in 2005. The first of those events in this region is in a month’s time at the Moonah Classic.
Felton beat the recent graduates to the PGA Tour, Aron Price and Marc Leishman in 2007 and he will be looking to turn around a horror season in 2008. Felton, the former Australian Amateur Champion is a talented player who has won several equivalent events in Australia in addition to winning on the Nationwide Tour.
Two players with impressive recent finishes on the Australasian Tour, Marcus Fraser and Peter Senior are in the field. Fraser went so close to winning the Australian Masters recently eventually finishing runner up to Rod Pampling and Senior finished a very impressive third behind Geoff Ogilvy at the Cadbury Schweppes Australian PGA Championship in December.
Fraser is a regular now on the European Tour while, for Senior, he is preparing for a career on the Senior Tour for which he becomes eligible on July 31st.
Paul Sheehan is another with an impressive background having won amongst other events, the Japan Open and the Jacobs Creek Open. Sheehan competed on the PGA Tour in 2007 but in 2008 played most of his golf on the Japan Golf Tour. Like Felton, 2008 was not good to Sheehan and he will be keen to make a fresh and better start in 2009.
Up and comer Tim Wood who not only won the NSW PGA Championship in November but who briefly joined David Smail in the lead early in the final round of the recent Australian Open at Royal Sydney will look to continue the progress he has shown of late. Wood also finished third at the NSW Open in a run of late season form that elevated his status in the game considerably.
The Victorian Open is being televised by Newcastle production company, Castle Media, with a highlights package to be shown on Fox Sports and Channel 10’s High Definition service the weekend following the event.