Golf Victoria is pleased to announce Australian European Tour star Richard Green and his partner Marianne Skarpnord who plays on the Ladies European Tour, will compete in the 2013 Victorian Open to be hosted for the first time at 13th Beach Golf Links from February 21-24.
Green finished in a tie for 10th at the Talisker Masters last week at Kingston Heath after finishing tied for 14th with Phil Mickelson at the Barclays Singapore Open a week prior that featured a field including world number one Rory McIlroy, 2012 Masters Winner Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen and Francesco Molinari.
The ever consistent Victorian from Williamstown will start as one of the favourites for the coveted Vic Open trophy that has been won by some of golf’s biggest names including Greg Norman, Gary Player, Peter Thomson, Ian Baker-Finch, Kel Nagle and Robert Allenby.
Green, who last played the Vic Open in 2001 where he finished runner-up to Scott Laycock at Cranbourne spoke on his decision to play the upcoming tournament, and the unique concept of the men and women playing simultaneously.
“I’ve always been a fan of the women and the men joining ranks and having the tournament in the same week. I think it gives the event a bit of spice. Any professional event would work well like that I believe. Being at 13th Beach and fitting into my schedule, it’s my first opportunity to play the Vic Open for a long time. As soon as I heard the dates and venue, I thought what a great opportunity.
“I’ve played 13th Beach socially before and it’s a really good course. It’ll be interesting, conditions will be tough and it’s going to have a strong links feel. I’m looking forward to it; it’s nice down that part of the world around the coast. I spent a lot of time as an amateur playing at Barwon Heads and some of the courses down there so it’ll be nice to go back,” said Green.
When asked about the possibility of having him and Skarpnord playing in the final groups on Sunday, Green added, “It would be nice. She’s slowly coming back to form and I’m chipping away at my game. It’d be great to see us both do well.”
Always the motorsport enthusiast, Green shared some of his plans for the times he won’t be on course, “I’ve always had a bit of an ambition of going down there and riding the motorbike along the Great Ocean Road. I think that’d be a great experience. I’ll take Marianne down there. I think she’ll be blown away by the coast. We’re going to plan to spend a bit more time around there, see the Twelve Apostles and maybe head up to Warrnambool afterwards.”
Since turning pro in 1992, Green has six professional wins to his name including the 2004 Australian Masters and the 2010 Portugal Masters. The former Victorian State player was the first left-hander to win on the European Tour since Bob Charles in 1974 when he won his inaugural title on tour at the Dubai Desert Classic in 1997.
Meanwhile, for Skarpnord, 2013 is a year where the Norwegian hopes to play a lot more golf than the past 12 months having suffered stress fractures and a broken rib. Since turning pro in 2004, Skarpnord has two Ladies European Tour victories to her name, taking out the 2009 Deutsche Bank Swiss Open and the Carta Si Ladies Italian Open also in 2009.
As Green’s partner, Skarpnord plans to spend a lot of time in Australia over the coming months and will feature in multiple ALPG Tour events.
“I’ll play the Australian Masters in Queensland, New South Wales Open and the Vic Open, and hopefully I get into the Australian Open but that’s an LPGA Tour event so spots will be limited,” Skarpnord said.
Asked about her injuries, Skarpnord shared, “It was a pain in the butt but its good now. Only thing is when I have a little time off it hurts again because it was a stress fracture with a broken rib and it gets really stiff. As soon as I stop moving my body it just stiffens like crazy. Looks like I’m going to have to deal with it for most of my career but its good right now. I’m going to play everything moving forwards. After the year I had off I was so bored and frustrated so I thought I’ll never complain again about having so many tournaments.”
2013 will mark the second consecutive year Skarpnord will make an appearance in the Vic Open having played at Spring Valley earlier this year in the first occasion as a concurrent tournament.
“I played last year’s Vic Open which was just after New Years but I prefer the new dates for 2013 as I was still in Christmas holidays mode at Spring Valley.
“I think the format is a great thing to do. I wish they would do it more often. We have a tournament on the European Tour and Ladies European Tour in Morocco that combines men and women. Although we don’t play the same course on the weekend like the Vic Open, it’s a great week when you can travel and stay together.”