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Golf’s Vic Open showcases equality drive

Golf has it’s fair share of conservative traditions, but the Vic Open in Australia shows that the sport is also capable of innovating.

Both male and female professionals played in alternate groups over two courses at the 13th Beach Golf Links in Geelong, with equal prize money of $1,100,000 on offer for both men and women. It’s the one event on the LPGA and European Tour schedule where this happens.

Min Woo Lee won the men’s tournament, while South Korea’s Park Hee-young claimed the women’s title following a playoff.

“The Vic Open should open people’s eyes to the fact that our game is full of amazing golf talent,” former US Open winner Geoff Ogilvy, who was competing in Geelong, wrote on the LPGA website.

“It also proves that women and men playing together can work. Tennis has been doing it for years and has clearly benefited from it. There are certain major tennis championships where the women’s final draw more eyes than the men.

“I know some people think it’s not complete equity — the women play best of three sets and the men play best of five, that sort of thing — but at least they play at the same place at the same time. And, they play for the same prize money.”

The 21-year-old Lee’s victory earned the Australian a two-year European Tour exemption.

“I just played awesome and out of myself. I’m over the moon,” Lee, whose older sister — world No. 9 Minjee Lee — won the Vic Open in 2014 and 2018, told reporters.

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‘Worst year of my life’

Park got the better of fellow South Koreans Choi Hye-jin and Ryu So-yeon in a playoff.

“Last year was the worst year in my life and I had to go to q-school and I was going to stop golf because I thought (there was) no more game in my mind,” said the 32-year-old Park.

“Then I made q-school and I had a chance to play another year this year. I never stopped and I think God gave to me this present.”

In June, Swedish stars Anika Sorenstam and Henrik Stenson will host the Scandinavian Mixed with 78 men and 78 women going head-to-head on the same course as the golfers compete for one prize fund and one trophy.

CNN