Sunday, February 08, 2015



Australian veteran golfer Richard Green and his Norwegian fiancée Marianne Skarpnord have delivered the "love story" ending promoters were hoping for at this year's Victorian Open, with each player clinching titles in the men's and women's events running concurrently at Thirteenth Beach Golf Club.

It took two play-off holes for the men's title to be decided on Sunday - the second year in a row that event has gone to extra holes - but the 43-year-old Green finally outlasted reigning Australian Masters champion Nick Cullen by rolling in a 4ft birdie putt in his third time down the 18th hole.
About an hour earlier, Green's fiancee Skarpnord played her part by clinching her seventh title as a professional, winning the women's event by three shots ahead of rising Australian teenage prodigy Su Oh.
"I really think it's fascinating that we've both done it (win)," said Green, who with Skarpnord has just bought a house at Thirteenth Beach. "It's great for the tournament.
"The format of this tournament is amazing and I really hope it kicks off some interest in other tournaments around the world because it's a great atmosphere. Having the girls around, they're great players and they create just as good an environment."
Green said that being a part of Skarpnord's win had been something very different.
"Experiencing her thoughts and feelings at night and talking to each other about it has been very different and I can't say I have experienced it.
"Most of the time I'm away on my own, somewhere around the world and trying to deal with the pressures of golf."
It came down to a one-on-one duel between Victorian-bred Oh and Skarpnord, however, the Norwegian's experience proved decisive as she navigated her way through a roller-coaster final round to finish at even par for the day and -13 overall, three better than Oh at -10 playing in her first event as a professional.
The drama in the men's event began on the 18th hole, with European Tour professional Green in the clubhouse at -16, leading by one shot after showing his class with a birdie under pressure on the final hole.
But that was nothing compared to Cullen who, at -15, lobbed in a clutch chip to within a couple of feet to set up his own birdie on the par five and the extra holes.
In front of big galleries at Barwon Heads, just outside Geelong, Green and Cullen then both held their nerve to par the first playoff hole.
The critical moment in the second play-off hole came when Cullen clipped his approach shot through the green, leaving himself with a difficult chip to make for birdie.
He did his best, rolling it close, but it wasn't enough as Green dropped in the winning putt to make his birdie and punched the air with relief.
Ryan Ruffels, the teenage sensation with the golfing world at his feet, earned more admirers of his enormous talent by backing up his stellar six-under round of 66 on Saturday with a two-under par round of 70 on Sunday. He finished at -14 overall and equal third with 2012 Victorian Open winner Scott Arnold, and local favourite Ben Eccles, a member at Thirteenth Beach and Torquay golf clubs.




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