Eight Kiwis will tee off on the opening day of the 2022 Vic Open on Thursday with the men’s championship played in conjunction with the women’s championship on the same courses and same days.
Ben Campbell and Momoka Kobori return this week to pick up where they left off last week at TPS Victoria with both having strong tournaments. This week they are joined by Mike Hendry, Denzel Ieremia, Munchin Keh, Hanee Song, Jenna Hunter and Siyi Keh.
The championship, held at 13th Beach Golf Links in Barwon heads, is co-sanctioned with the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia (PGATA) and WPGA Tour of Australasia (WPGA) and along with a strong men’s field, the women’s event has been strengthened with the appearance of 2016 Olympian Su Oh and major winner and world No. 30 Hannah Green.
Green has had three months away from tournament golf but she has set herself the target of winning the Vic Open first up this week at 13th Beach.
Green who is the highest-ranked woman in the field on the Bellarine Peninsula this week, completed her LPGA Tour season in America last November. While she knows that she could be rusty when the tournament starts on Thursday, she is also the marquee player on the women’s side and the pressure will be on.
“I think it’s just part of it,” she said. “It’s really nice just to play a golf tournament in Australia. Unfortunately due to borders I wasn’t able to play in the events last year. So it’s been a couple of years since I’ve played on home soil and I love playing, love the experience, love having the pressure but also have everyone barracking for me as well. So it’s really nice to come back and see so many familiar faces and some new faces. I’m really excited, hopefully not too rusty.”
There’s no equivocation of her target for this week. With the LPGA Tour co-sanction not in place this year, the field is thinner.
“I want to win it. It’s my first event of the year but I don’t see why I can’t. Obviously there’s a few players who are probably going to be up there as well coming in Sunday. I feel my goal is to win some events and I don’t see why I can’t have my hands on a Vic Open trophy.’’
Following the cancellation of the 2022 New Zealand Open the top three men will gain entry into this year’s The Open at St Andrews, and the prospect of heading to the home of golf has players buzzing.
“How sick is that? That’s awesome,” Australian PGA champion Jed Morgan said.
Straight after playing alongside England cricket legends Sir Ian Botham and John Emburey in the pro-am day, Morgan was not hiding his excitement at the prospect of a major debut.
“I think everyone has a bit of an extra spring in their step because of it,” he said.
“The cool opportunity with that is that there’s three of them and I don’t think anyone in this field has automatically qualified. No one has so everyone’s playing for them.
“I’ve played the amateur tournament there twice. It’s nothing like what The Open would be like but it’s sick.
“I’ve played the Old Course I think four or five times. It’s awesome. It’s pretty cool.
“I want to go back there and I want to play The Open.”
Major champion Geoff Ogilvy is well versed in what The Open is all about – he had a top-five finish in 2005 and a top-ten finish in 2010 – but his enthusiasm for playing in the majors has not waned.
“That’d be pretty nice. The Old Course is close to my favourite place in golf. The 150th there would be amazing,” he said.
“Hopefully I can play decently and have a chance. It’ll obviously be on a lot of guys’ minds.”
Kiwi Tee times below in NZDT.
9.54am Denzel Ieremia
10.06am Ben Campbell
10.06am Mike Hendry
10.18am Momoka Kobori
2.48pm Munchin Keh
2.24pm Hanee Song
2.48pm Jenna Hunter
2.48pm Siyi Keh
TV coverage begins at 3.30pm each day on Spark Sport.