Robert Allenby has travelled to Thirteenth Beach Golf Links for the Oates Vic Open, the tournament that launched the four-time PGA Tour champion’s career.

The Victorian won the event as an amateur in 1991 and is happy to be playing the tournament that boosted his career and announced him as one of the best golfers in the country.

“It’s been a long time. I think I read somewhere it’s been 18 years since I’ve been here,” Allenby said. “It’s nice to come back to a tournament that was my first victory. I was an amateur when I did win it and it was a pro tournament back in 1991 at Woodlands.”

Allenby is part of one of the strongest line-ups the Oates Vic Open has seen in recent years, joining European Tour regulars Wade Ormsby, Richard Green and Brett Rumford. While the more seasoned veterans are on Allenby’s list of players to watch, he also has an eye on the strong field of up-and-coming amateurs.

“It’s a fantastic line-up, it’s going to be a great turn-out with great players and we’ve got so much young talent coming up as well,” Allenby said. “The amateurs that we have now are world-class and that’s all credit to Australian golf, really. It’s been proven with guys like Brett Coletta and what he’s done as an amateur winning the Queensland Open and finishing second at the New South Wales Open.

“There’s just a lot of great talent coming through so I wouldn’t be surprised if an amateur won this week.”

“There’s just a lot of great talent coming through so I wouldn’t be surprised if an amateur won this week.” — Robert Allenby

Coletta will make his debut this week at Pebble Beach on the PGA Tour, a move Allenby has applauded, and while he is now in the pro ranks there are plenty of talented amateurs flying the flag at the Oates Vic Open, including Minwoo Lee (pictured), Harrison Endycott and Zach Murray.

“It’s awesome that Brett’s turned pro. He’s got a good head on his shoulders and I think he has one of the best swings in golf,” Allenby said. “He’s destined for great things; I said that just before the end of last year. I hope he does fantastic this week. I think if you get to the point where you’re good enough and you know you’re good enough, you’ve just got to trust yourself and do it.”

The Oates Vic Open presents a new opportunity for Allenby. It is his first time competing in the unique format that sees the men’s and women’s titles played concurrently.

“It’s fantastic. I think what it’s going to do is bring different crowds, a crowd that would normally come down and watch women’s golf and a crowd that watches the men’s golf,” Allenby said. “It’s unique and I think it’s a great way to go. It livens up the tournament when you get the two different spectrums of having men and women out here.

“It works really well I think everyone will enjoy this week, the guys and the girls.”

The Oates Vic Open begins tomorrow at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links with a field of 144 players vying for a $500,000 purse. The winner will receive Official World Golf Ranking Points and become fully exempt on to the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia for the remainder of this season plus a further two years.