13 Feb 2022 | Vic Open |
#VicOpen: Papadatos joins Australian golfing royalty
by Dane Heverin
Sydneysider Dimitrios Papadatos has joined the likes of Australian golf legends Peter Thomson and Kel Nagle as a two-time winner of the Vic Open.
Papadatos, 30, produced a perfect six-under Sunday round of 66 to finish one shot clear of playing partner Ben Campbell at 21-under for the tournament and not only clinch his fifth professional win, but also a spot in the field at St Andrews for the 150th Open this year.
The fans at 13th Beach were treated to an exquisite display of golf from Papadatos and New Zealander Campbell as they both went bogey free and continually placed one another under pressure.
It was most prevalent on the dramatic final hole when Campbell’s shot from the green side bunker rolled to roughly three feet to all but guarantee a birdie and throw down the gauntlet to Papadatos that he would need to make a birdie to secure victory.
The champion had been as cold as ice in the scorching summer sun all day and the 18th was no exception when he putted from off the green to five feet and promptly sunk the all important birdie putt.
“I just thought why not another one. I’ve made a few today so I felt pretty comfortable over it surprisingly,” Papadatos said.
“It was a bit of a nightmare putt. Left-to-right, downhill with the wind off the left but it went straight in.”
That putt secured his first victory since 2018 when he triumphed on the Challenge Tour at the Open de Portugal and in the years since Papadatos has gone through challenges with swing adjustments, managing life on tour and the mental impact of the game.
“I wasn’t sure if I still had it in me,” he said of today’s win.
“It goes to show I didn’t fluke it the first time. I’m just so happy to be getting my game and playing well again.
“Winning in the final group - I did it once before at the NZ Open - it is definitely a different feeling. There’s a lot more pressure, expectation, the crowds are there. You know exactly what you’ve got to do so I’ll take a lot from that.”
Papadatos has also come to terms in recent times with his own strengths and weaknesses. He admits that he has issues with his ball striking but he possesses a sensational short game which he put on display today.
“My best isn’t usually very good anyway,” he said with a laugh.
“I always struggle with the ball striking so I’ve started to accept that a bit more and when I hit a bad shot, I don’t beat myself up over it.”
As for heading to St Andrews in July, Papadatos will arrive there with experience of both the place itself and the tournament.
“I played Royal Portrush when I finished second at the Australian Open in 2019 and that was pretty cool. So I know what that’s all about now,” he said.
“I’ve played the Dunhill Links about four times. I haven’t had much luck over there. I struggle in the cold and the wind so I’ve got a bit of work to do. But I’m just looking forward to it. It’s going to be awesome.”
He will be joined by Campbell, who will be making his major debut, and Matthew Griffin, who played in the 2017 Open and secured the final spot on offer for this year by finishing third at 16-under par.
The low amateur was taken out by Western Australian Hayden Hopewell who finished in a tie for 15th at nine-under par for the tournament.
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