ENGLISH teen Georgia Hall has claimed the biggest title of her promising professional career after holding off Nanna Madsen and defending champion Marianne Skarpnord to win the 2016 Oates Vic Open.
Hall led the tournament from the opening day and finished 11-under par, one shot clear of Denmark’s Madsen and Norway’s Skarpnord after posting a final round of two-under par 71.
The trio virtually went head-to-head over the final round at Barwon Heads’ Thirteenth Beach – all at one stage sharing the lead.
However, Skarpnord fell out of contention to win back-to-back titles after bogeying the 16th and Madsen missed a birdie putt on the final hole that would have forced a play-off.
Hall held her nerve in the final few holes to claim the title and the 19-year-old was delighted to become the first English woman to win the Oates Vic Open.
“We were so tight the whole way through until the last two holes so I really had to fight out there, which made it more enjoyable actually,” Hall said.
“It’s an amazing start to the year as this was actually the first tournament that I had played in.”
Hall was overcome with emotion after her victory and revealed she kept looking at the tattoo on the inside of right wrist that reminded her to breathe deeply on the course.
“I sometimes rush my swing or my decisions and it’s a big meaning for me to try and take my time,”
Meanwhile, New Zealander Michael Long claimed the 2016 Men’s Oates Vic Open after producing an amazing recovery shot from a hazard to beat Canberra’s Matthew Millar in a dramatic play-off.
The pair tied on 13-under at the end of the regulation 72 after Millar birdied the final three holes to force the tournament into a play-off.
With huge crowds following the pair back up the par-five 18th hole, Long hooked his second shot about 40 metres left of the pin and into deep rough inside the hazard on the first play-off hole.
But Long not only knocked the ball onto the green, he put it within five feet.
After Millar left his birdie attempt just short of the cup, the Kiwi rolled in his putt to claim the title.
The 47-year-old is the third New Zealander to win the Oates Vic Open and first since Gareth Paddison in 2004.
It was the third consecutive year the men’s Oates Vic Open has been decided in a play-off.
Long, who hadn’t won since the 2008 WA PGA Championship, said he was amazed someone found his ball and was fortunate it was sitting nicely for him to attack the pin.
“It was sitting up high so it was a little baseball shot and I said to my caddy ‘here we go, it’s a wing and a prayer’ and it came out perfect,” Long said.
“I was walking in there and I was worried the ball might actually fall down to the bottom of the reeds.
One of the marshals was saying to be careful when you walk in there.
“Didn’t want to think about it too much and trusted my hand-eye co-ordination that I could hit a ball about three feet off the ground.
“That was pretty special – that one will live for a long time. I feel a little bit sad for Matthew because I had no right to make four from there.”
Local hope Ben Eccles performed strongly over the four-day competition to finish tied for fourth at 10-under par.