Australian golfer Minjee Lee knows what it takes to mix business with pleasure on the Bellarine Peninsula.
She revelled in the sun and nearby surf to win the Victorian Open three years ago and returns to Barwon Heads a far more assured competitor this time.
The 2014 champ knows her way around the Beach and Creek courses at 13th Beach golf links and is favourite to add a second Vic Open title in the tournament starting on Thursday.
It won’t be a pushover by any means with the event sanctioned with the Ladies European tour for the first time, guaranteeing greater depth to the women’s field in the unique four-rounds tournament played alongside the men.
Reigning LET Order of Merit winner Beth Allen will also kick off her 2017 campaign at 13th Beach, the American recording back-to-back wins late last season on her way to the top of the money list.
Allen notched a further six top 10s in 2016 and made more birdies than any other player on the LET tour throughout the season.
Norway’s Marianne Skarpnord and Denmark’s Nanna Koerstz Madsen, last year’s joint runners-up, will fancy their chances again after falling one stroke short of England’s Georgia Hall who hasn’t returned to defend the title.
Skarpnord is another player to feel right at home at 13th Beach – literally.
She shares a house with boyfriend Richard Green among the gated community on the golf links.
The pair didn’t even have time to furnish their new Aussie base when both won the respective 2015 Vic Open titles.
Adding depth to the European challenge are Solheim Cup teammates Laura Davies, Melissa Reid, Sandra Gal and Caroline Hedwall.
Supporting Lee in the Australian contingent will be US tour colleagues Su Oh, Katherine Kirk and Sarah Kemp.
Madelene Stavnar is the youngest woman in the Open field, the Norwegian making her LET tour debut in Barwon Heads at just 16 years and four months old.
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