Geoff Ogilvy says the Vic Open is now a much bigger golf tournament than the men's Australian Open in just about every measure.
The long-time PGA Tour star has scaled back his schedule this year for family reasons, giving him the perfect opportunity to play the Vic Open for the first time since it moved to the unique format of staging the men's and women's tournaments concurrently at the same venue.
Total prize money has increased ten-fold in the space of seven years to AU$3 million – shared equally between the men and the women.
It dwarfs the $1.25 million on offer for last year's men's Australian Open at The Lakes.
"This is a bigger tournament than the Australian Open right now by a long way; maybe not in prestige, but in every other factor, every other measure," Ogilvy told reporters on Wednesday.
The 2006 US Open winner says there's no reason why the same dual-tournament format couldn't be taken up by Golf Australia to boost the national Open.
"It only adds to each tournament on each side," he said.
"The guys' tournament certainly helps the girls' tournament, and I think the girls' side helps our tournament because you get the fans that would only go watch one side of things, now they go watch both sides of things.
"And it works in other sports. In tennis it always works."
The tournament has also benefited by word of mouth from players who have lauded the unique dynamic at 13th Beach.
"The Vic Open is a relevant tournament in the world this week," Ogilvy said.
"People are noticing because of the equal prize money and the LPGA and the guys’ thing. That's a big deal."
RIGHT: Ogilvy poses with Karrie Webb ahead of the 2019 Vic Open. PHOTO: Michael Dodge/Getty Images.
The women's Vic Open has received a huge boost this year after being included on the LPGA Tour schedule for the first time, the same status as for next week's women's Australian Open in Adelaide.
Ogilvy can see the benefits of all the big Australian men's tournaments also being shifted to early in the new year, rather than November and December, to try and avoid clashing with some of the huge-money events overseas.
Australians Jason Scrivener, Lucas Herbert and New Zealand's Ryan Fox are the early favourites to lift the 2019 Vic Open trophy in a field which also includes England's Andrew Johnston and Japan's Ryo Ishikawa.
Ogilvy also still believes he can contend every week, despite reducing his playing schedule.
"I've still got an itch to scratch," said the Victorian, who last played his state Open way back in 1998 when he was leading amateur for the third time.
"I know there's better golf in there.
"Whether it translates into better scores and winning tournaments, it's not really about that. I just want it to feel great."
- John Salvado, Australian Associated Press