ISPS HANDA VIC OPEN AGAIN DRIVES ON FOR SPORTS EQUALITY
Once again, the ISPS Handa Vic Open is proving to be a leader in sports equality. Staged at 13th Beach Golf Links on Australia’s Bellarine Peninsula, men and women play on the same courses, at the same time, for equal prize money of $1.1 million USD. For the second consecutive year, the ISPS Handa Vic Open is jointly sanctioned by the LPGA Tour, the ALPG, the European Tour and the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia.
A field of 144 men and 144 women will play one round on each of the first two days across the Beach and Creek Courses. After the second round, the field will be cut to the leading 60 players plus ties for both men and women. A second cut will be made after the third round to the leading 35 players plus ties for both men and women. The third and fourth rounds will be conducted on the Beach Course.
2019 champions Celine Boutier (LPGA Tour) and David Law (European Tour) have returned to 13th Beach in hopes of defending their titles. The women’s field also features 11 major champions, including seven-time major champion and Australian golf legend Karrie Webb and Inbee Park, another seven-time major winner and the 2016 Olympic gold medalist.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE ISPS HANDA VIC OPEN
- While this is the second playing of the ISPS Handa Vic Open as an official LPGA Tour stop, the tournament was held from 1988-1992 and 2012-2018 as part of the ALPG
- Past ISPS Handa Vic Open winners include current LPGA Tour players Minjee Lee, who won in 2014 as an amateur and in 2018 as a professional, Georgia Hall (2016) and Mel Reid (2017); Lee and Reid are in this week's field
- The concurrent men’s tournament has been played since 1957, with notable winners including Gary Player (1959), Greg Norman (1984) and Ian Baker-Finch (1985)
- The Vic Open has been played at 13th Beach Golf Links since 2013, the second year that the men’s and women’s competitions were held concurrently
- This event is the first of two consecutive LPGA Tour stops in Australia, joining next week’s ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in Adelaide
- Title sponsor ISPS Handa was founded in 2006 to “further the transformative power of sport across the globe,” focusing on blind and disabled golf
CELINE BOUTIER ENJOYING FIRST TITLE DEFENCE EXPERIENCE
2019 was a breakthrough year for Celine Boutier. The native of Montrouge, France, became a Rolex First-Time Winner when she overcame a two-stroke deficit after 54 holes and captured the ISPS Handa Vic Open by two strokes over Charlotte Thomas and Sarah Kemp. That win sparked a career-best year, with three other top-10 finishes, a career-best $760,430 in earnings and a flawless 4-0-0 record for the victorious Team Europe at the Solheim Cup.
As a player who speaks openly of mental struggles during the transition to her professional career, the win at 13th Beach was especially sweet for Boutier. It was validation that she truly could make it as a professional golfer.
“It's not easy to get a win on Tour; especially your first win can be pretty challenging. The fact that I got it so early really proved to myself that I could do it and I wasn't just like, you know, having goals that I couldn't achieve or something like that,” said Boutier, who won the 2014 NCAA Championship for the Duke Blue Devils. “I think the good thing is I felt like I could even improve, I felt like I could do better things better. I think in that sense it helped me a lot just to feel more comfortable out here and feel like I can belong on Tour.”
One year later, Boutier comes to Australia fresh off top-10 finishes at the season’s first two events. Success has plastered a smile on her face, a face that is plastered all over the sleepy beach town of Barwon Heads as part of the tournament’s marketing push.
“It's very strange, but I think they picked a good picture,” said Boutier with a laugh when asked about seeing herself around town. “I'm pretty excited about it.”
MINJEE LEE LOOKING FOR VIC OPEN THREE-PEAT
Rolex Rankings No. 9 Minjee Lee will make her 2020 LPGA Tour debut this week at a course that is very dear to her heart. In 2014, Lee won the ISPS Handa Vic Open at 13th Beach Golf Links as a 17-year-old amateur and she added a second Vic Open title with a five-stroke win in 2018.
“I think it's a really great venue just with the guys as well. I think it's just something very different that we don't get to have often,” said Lee, who had a win and four runner-up finishes on the LPGA Tour in 2019. “It's just a great atmosphere. And all the crowds and the supporters come out and they can walk with us, so it's just something different for everyone.”
In a fun twist, Lee will tee it up this week with her younger brother Min Woo Lee, a second-year European Tour player, in the men’s competition. This is the third time the Lees will play together at the Vic Open, joining 2017 and 2018, but that doesn’t mean that the sibling rivalry is any less intense.
“We had a practice round yesterday, played nine holes,” said Minjee Lee. “I haven't played with him in a while, so yeah, nice to see how far he hits it.”
NOTABLE FIRST-ROUND GROUPINGS
Defending champion Celine Boutier will tee off No. 1 on the Beach Course at 12:40 p.m., playing with Olympic gold medalist Inbee Park and leading Australian Minjee Lee
Australia’s Hannah Green, who won the 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, will tee off No. 1 on the Beach Course at 1 p.m., alongside fellow major champions Jeongeun Lee6 and So Yeon Ryu
Sarah Kemp, the Australian who shot a final-round 65 at the 2019 ISPS Handa Vic Open to jump into a tie for second, will tee off No. 10 on the Creek Course at 7:20 a.m., playing with American Elizabeth Szokol and 2015 ISPS Handa Vic Open winnerMarianne Skarpnord
2020 RACE TO THE CME GLOBE CONTINUES AT ISPS HANDA VIC OPEN
The 2020 Race to the CME Globe continues this week with the ISPS Handa Vic Open. LPGA Tour Members will accumulate points in every Official LPGA Tournament to get into the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship with an equal opportunity to take home a $1.5 million bonus, the biggest prize in women’s golf.
After runner-up finishes at the season’s first two events, Nasa Hataoka leads the Race to the CME Globe standings with 600 points. The season’s two winners – Gaby Lopez (Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions) and Madelene Sagstrom (Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio) – are tied for second with 500 points each, followed by LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park with 300 points.
UL INTERNATIONAL CROWN RANKINGS
As the 2020 season progresses, the UL International Crown standings are taking form in preparation of the prestigious team event at the Centurion Club in London, England. The field of eight countries is determined by the combined Rolex Women’s World Golf Ranking of the top four players from each country as of June 1, 2020.
Here are the following countries and players in the UL International Crown rankings as of Feb. 4, 2020:
- Republic of Korea (17 points): Jin Young Ko, Sung Hyun Park, Sei Young Kim, Jeongeun Lee6
- United States (35 points): Nelly Korda, Danielle Kang, Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda
- Japan (86 points): Nasa Hataoka, Hinako Shibuno, Ai Suzuki, Mone Inami
- England (184 points): Charley Hull, Bronte Law, Georgia Hall, Jodi Ewart Shadoff
- Australia (202 points): Minjee Lee, Hannah Green, Su Oh, Katherine Kirk
- People’s Republic of China (240 points): Shanshan Feng, Yu Liu, Jing Yan, Xiyu Lin
- Thailand (268 points): AriyaJutanugarn, Moriya Jutanugarn, PornanongPhatlum, Jasmine Suwannapura
- Sweden (439 points): Madelene Sagstrom, Anna Nordqvist, Caroline Hedwall, Pernilla Lindberg
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will showcase female golfers from around the world on a global stage. The field is restricted to 60 players for each of the men’s and women’s competitions. The International Golf Federation (IGF) uses the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings to create the Olympic Golf Rankings.
As of the ISPS Handa Vic Open, 35 countries are represented in the current Olympic Rankings. Rolex Rankings No. 8 Jeongeun Lee6 is the leading female athlete in this week’s field, currently sitting as the fourth member of Team Korea. Former World No. 1 players Inbee Park, currently No. 16 and the 2016 gold medalist in Rio de Janeiro, and So Yeon Ryu, currently No. 18, have also made their way to 13th Beach in hopes of improving their rankings and reaching the Olympic team.
For more information on the Olympic Women’s Golf Rankings, click here.
Tournament: @VicOpenGolf (Twitter and Instagram), #VicOpen
LPGA: @LPGA, @LPGAMedia (Twitter), @lpga_tour (Instagram)
TV TIMES (all times Eastern on Golf Channel)
Wednesday, Feb. 5 to Thursday, Feb. 6 – 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Thursday, Feb. 6 to Friday, Feb. 7 – 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Friday, Feb. 7 to Saturday, Feb. 8 – 9:30 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Saturday, Feb. 8 to Sunday, Feb. 9 – 8:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.