The IPS Vic Open (6-9 February) sees the European Tour head to Australia this week. The tournament is taking place at the 13th Beach Golf Club at Barwon Heads in Victoria, that has held the event since 2013.
The host venue has two courses, the Creek Course and the Beach Course, and all players will play 18 holes at each course over the opening two days of the competition. The field will then be cut to 60 players for the third round at the Beach Course on Saturday, with the field cut again to 35 players and ties for the fourth round on Sunday.
Both courses are short by today’s exacting standards, with the Creek course measuring 6,940 yards and the Beach Course just 6,778 yards. The Creek Course is traditionally less demanding that the Beach Course, with wider fairways and rough that is less penal. The creek from which it derives its name meanders through various holes, many of which are lined by pine trees.
The Beach Course is more of a traditional links, with features including many undulations that can sweep golf balls into numerous pot bunkers. But both courses have similar bent grass/poa annua greens that are large considering the short nature of the courses. Due to the exposed nature of the courses, the wind can play a huge part in determining what is a good score on any given day.
In reasonable conditions, many players will better their average tee-to-green statistics this week, which puts a bigger emphasis on the players’ abilities to get the ball close to the flags or arrive with a hotter than average putter.
Winners of this event haven’t been the easiest to pick, with last year’s winner David Law available at 300/1 with the bookmakers before the off. But it’s interesting that the Scotsman was brought up on similar length links courses in Scotland.
This is traditionally one of the weakest fields on the European Tour all year and only two players are ranked inside the world’s top 100. Haotong Li is the top-ranked player at number 79 and this former Open Championship runner-up is more than capable of blowing most of this field away on his best form. A win could catapult the Chinese player back towards the world’s top-50 but it’s a case of whether you want to take 14/1 in a tournament that has a habit of producing big-priced winners.
It’s a similar case with Lucas Herbert, who will also be looking to take another step up the world rankings after his recent win in Dubai. The Australian would love to win as the tournament is raising money for his fellow fire-hit countrymen, but he’s had a busy schedule of late and missed the cut here last year. Players that did go well here last year include Brad Kennedy, Jason Scrivener, and Wade Ormsby, but none of that trio have been missed in the market by the bookies.
That means the young Korean Min Woo Lee gets is the first name in this week’s betting plan. Big things are expected of him and, though he missed the cut the last time he played here, he was sixth the previous season. He’s improved greatly since then and he should have shaken the rust off last week in Saudi Arabia.
Working on the theory that a Brit that grew up on links courses won this event last year on his debut, Matthew Jordan looks an interesting proposition this week. The 24-year-old caught the eye when making a stack of birdies at Hillside on his way to finishing 15th at the 2019 British Masters and was fourth at the Challenge Tour Grand Final last season. He could take to this short and linksy test at the first time of asking.
Another Englishman that has plenty of excellent links form in his younger days is Ashley Chesters, and that includes a good showing in the Open Championship in his amateur days. Chesters lacks the power off the tee to get competitive at many courses used on the European Tour but his short and accurate game should be perfect this week. He finished 12th last year on debut and could hit the frame this time with that experience under his belt.
Using the horses for courses for theory, it’s also impossible to leave last year’s winner David Law out of the equation and he’s worth backing to follow up.
Free Tips for IPS Handa Vic Open 2020
Min Woo Lee (Each-Way) @ 19.00 Unibet or 888Sport
Matthew Jordan (Each-Way) @ 46.00 Unibet or 888Sport
Ashley Chesters (Each-Way) @ 41.00 Unibet or 888Sport
David Law (Each-Way) @ 81.00 Unibet or 888Sport