• Ogilvy at home with TPS Victoria format

Tournament host Geoff Ogilvy has praised the format of TPS Victoria as the mixed-gender, all-inclusive event at Rosebud Country Club enters its third year.

Ogilvy is playing the event but his motivation is broader, in the sense that the Geoff Ogilvy Foundation which supports the tournament has a stated motivation of providing opportunities in golf for young players.

He needed look no farther than Thursday’s tee times to see that the Webex Players Series fits the bill. The 2006 US Open champion is teeing off at 8am alongside the greatest female player this country has produced, Karrie Webb, and also with Justice Bosio, an 18-year-old from Caboolture Golf Club in Queensland is a two-time Australian Amateur runner-up and was this week invited to play the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

“It’s a great draw, kind of describes the whole event,” he said. “I’m excited about that.”

World Golf Hall of Famer Webb, 48, is making her TPS debut this week on one of her regular trips back to Australia from her Florida home base.

Together with Ogilvy they represent major star quality in a field of the best domestic players on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and WPGA Tour Australasia, the co-sanctioning partners.

The first of four TPS events over the next five weeks, TPS Victoria features men and women playing for the same share of the $250,000 prize pool, increased from $200,000 last year when Victorian Todd Sinnott won.

There is also a cluster of Australia’s top amateurs in the field and competing on even terms, headed by the likes of Bosio, and then on the weekend another bunch of juniors drop in for their own competition, playing alongside the professionals.

“It’s a perfect match,” said Ogilvy, whose foundation has been running for some years now. “It’s exactly what we’re doing, creating opportunities for kids to get experience. There’s an element of golf that you can’t learn until you do it with someone who’s better than you. And that’s at every level. The faster and more often that you can play with people who are better than you and who are really good, that’s just great for your golf game.”

Rosebud’s North course, with two holes of the South course thrown into a composite layout, presents perfectly this week, so much so that even a much-travelled pro like Ogilvy was stunned at the improvements created by superintendent Ian Todd.

“You rarely play a tournament where the course gets better every year, but this gets quite amazingly better every year,” he said. “Courses evolve of course, but this is incredible. Amazing ‘super’, and really, this is sandbelt-level conditioning.”

The tournament has already grown since the first iteration in 2021 when Su Oh jumped out and almost created history by becoming the first woman to win a mixed four-round event, where local teenager Molly McLean hit her approach ‘stiff’ on the 18th hole to win the junior event, and where ultimately a battled-hardened male pro, Brad Kennedy, triumphed.

Today was pro-am day at Rosebud, with professionals mixing with the likes of multi-premiership Hawthorn AFL forward Luke Breust on the course.

Marking the resumption of the 2022/2023 ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia season, the first Webex Players Series event of 2023 also serves as the second WPGA Tour of Australasia tournament of the year.

While much attention will focus on international tour winners such as Webb, Marcus Fraser and Ogilvy, TPS Victoria will be a showcase of the young men and women on the verge of success on the world stage.

Stephanie Kyriacou is already a two-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, Anthony Quayle was top-15 in his major championship debut at The Open last year and 2022 champion Todd Sinnott is back to defend his title.

The increase in prize money to $250,000 gives it even greater significance to the all-important Order of Merit.

There are four of this season’s winners in the field with David Micheluzzi currently leading the adjusted Order of Merit that will award the top three finishers at season’s end promotion to the DP World Tour.

Fans can walk the fairways with players throughout the course of the four days or watch the enthralling final two rounds from the comfort of their lounge rooms, coverage starting at 2.30pm Saturday and 12.30pm Sunday AEDT.

First tee times are at 7.30am Thursday at Rosebud.

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