LPGA players will compete alongside male professionals for an equal purse at the 2019 Vic Open, Golf Australia announced. The unique event will be held Feb. 7-10 and jointly sanctioned by the European Tour and ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia (men’s) and the LPGA and ALPG (women’s).
It was announced in August that the event would be co-sanctioned by the European Tour. With the LPGA now joining the mix, the event is no longer being sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour.
The men’s Vic Open has been around since 1957, and past champions include Gary Player, Peter Thomson and Greg Norman. The women’s event began in 1988 but after four years was put on a 20-year hiatus. Golf Victoria reintroduced the women’s Vic Open in 2012 and staged it simultaneously with the men’s event.
Tee times at the Vic Open, held at 13th Beach Golf Links on the Bellarine Peninsula, have typically alternated between the men and women for the entire week so that fans could easily watch both events.
The Vic Open purse has now increased ten-fold since 2013, with the concurrent tournaments featuring purses of $1.5 million.
This will give LPGA players a two-tournament swing Down Under with the Women’s Australian Open, now in its eighth year as a co-sanctioned event, being held Feb. 14-17 at The Grange Golf Club in Adelaide.
“The LPGA Tour has been a great boon for the national championship and we are absolutely delighted the Vic Open will now be part of its worldwide schedule,” said Golf Australia chief executive Stephen Pitt in a statement.
“We’ve worked very hard with our sponsors and partners to attain the standards stipulated by the LPGA Tour when we first discussed this possibility and for a tournament that has become revered for its progressive thinking, we are excited to take it to the next level.”
Minjee Lee, who finished the season No. 2 on the LPGA money list, won this year’s contest by five strokes. The 22-year-old Aussie also triumphed at this event as an amateur in 2014. Lee’s younger brother, Min Woo, also competed.
“The Vic Open has established itself as a leader in sports equality,” said LPGA’s chief tournament business officer Ricki Lasky, “and, as golf’s global tour, we are greatly looking forward to being a part of this exciting week of competition, inspiration and camaraderie.”