The European Tour breaks new ground this week as we head down under for firstly the Vic Open’s debut at this level, before moving to Perth for the more established but equally quirky World Super 6 in a week’s time. A combined men’s and women’s event this week is a first for European golf and sends a massively positive signal out with both playing for equal prize money, however there will still be a title up for grabs for the winner of each of the men’s and women’s competitions. More on that later, however for the avoidance of any doubt I’ll be focussing this preview on the men’s competition only.
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Event Format. A full field of women from the Australian Ladies Professional Golf (ALPG) and Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) joins a full field comprised of members from the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia (PGATA) and European Tour for the Vic Open in what will effectively be two events running concurrently on the same course(s) at the same time for the same prize money. With over 300 players in total, two courses are being used for the first two days – the Beach Course and the Creek Course at 13th Beach Golf Links at Barwon Heads, Victoria – before the top 65 and ties from both the men’s and women’s events head to the Beach Course for Saturday. On Sunday the fields are both cut to the top 35 and ties for the final round which again will be hosted on the Beach Course. For more details on the format click here.
Groups will alternate men and women with the men playing off the back tees (6,796 yards and 6.940 yards for the Beach and Creek courses respectively) whereas the women will play off the forward tees at 6,479 yards and 6,573 yards. So other than the men’s tees being set further back, all players will be playing the same holes at the same time and in the same conditions.
Course Overview. Both tracks are short par 72s by modern standard and both are Tony Cashmore designs, with Nick Faldo having a hand in the development of the Creek Course. The Beach Course is built on true links land and whilst it’s a modern take on links golf, it shares the links features you’d expect with undulating fairways, pot bunkers and fescue-lined fairways. The Creek Course is a little wider and less penal from the rough and more reminiscent of a sand belt track with the addition of pine trees and the creek from which its name is derived. Both have large bent/poa greens and given the dimensions of each layout, wind is the main protection here at 13th Beach.
Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.
Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for Victoria is here. A warm start on Thursday (mid-80s Fahrenheit) with the outside chance of a thunderstorm will make way for cooler, breezier conditions for the remainder of the event which will likely keep a lid on scoring. Temperatures will struggle to hit much above 70 Fahrenheit from Friday onwards and average wind speeds will peak at 15-20mph, which on this layout will demand a certain type of game.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors.
Although this event has been running in some capacity since 1957, the combined men and women’s format has only been around since 2012 and the courses here have only hosted since 2013, so in terms of this week’s tournament stats listed above we’ve detailed from 2013 only. No specific skill stats have been captured for the 6 winners in this stretch given that it’s only featured on the Australasian Tour, however reading between the lines it looks like a game focussed on par-4 scoring and bogey avoidance is more likely to succeed than brute force and bullying of the par 5s. 20 birdies or thereabouts has generally been enough for the winner here with scores ranging from -7 to -16 proving victorious.
This is undoubtedly a better field than previous years with the inclusion of a number of European Tour players, so how much can be read into those past events held here is open to debate, however with a stiff breeze expected I’d suggest that the scoring won’t be excessive this week and those players who are comfortable on linksy/coastal tracks and playing in the wind will feel more comfortable here, as will those with a decent short game with plenty of sand in play.
Incoming Form: Of the 6 winners here at 13th beach, each had finished inside the top-40 on their last start globally:
- Simon Hawkes: MC/MC/62/MC/MC/MC/MC/MC/MC/WD/MC/25
- Dimi Papadadatos: MC/MC/52/56/MC/MC/MC/75/MC/20/MC/27
- Michael Long: MC/51/20/10/MC/7/34/MC/12/MC/MC/40
- Richard Green: MC/12/MC/18/DQ/9/39/35/15/26/38/25
- Matthew Griffin: 15/1/MC/35/3/MC/44/22/5/24/MC/26
- Matthew Giles: MC/MC/MC/72/MC/MC/MC/59/MC/34/5/13
Course Form. Course form is patchy with only 6 years’ worth of events in the books, however 4 of the 6 winners had previously recorded a top-15 finish around these parts and 2013 winner Matthew Giles has recorded 2 further top-20 finishes here since his win:
- Simon Hawkes: MC
- Dimi Papadadatos: MC/15/6/MC
- Michael Long: 14/MC/59
- Richard Green: 14/10
- Matthew Griffin: 14
- Matthew Giles: debut