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13th Beach Golf Links, VIC

1-4 February, 2024

13 Feb 2022 | Professional golf |

Trio seize golden slots in The Open

by Martin Blake

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Dimi Papadatos, Ben Campbell and Matt Griffin have been given a huge bonus for their play at 13th Beach this week in the form of an invitation to play the Open Championship at St Andrews in July.

The top three finishers in the Vic Open men’s tournament were all guaranteed a start at St Andrews last week when the R&A announced that the playing spots had been transferred from the aborted New Zealand Open. Not only is the venue the oldest and most famous in the world of golf, it is the 150th Open.

Sydney’s Papadatos and Kiwi Campbell had their spots largely wrapped up as they came down the 18th in a dual for the Vic Open win, but Victorian Matt Griffin had a slightly more nerve-wracking wait to see if he had finished third.

Griffin made par at the last hole to post 16 under par about half an hour before the last group, including overnight leader John Lyras, came through. Lyras was at 14 under and needed to hole his bunker shot at the final hole to knock Griffin out of his spot, but when that trap shot sailed past the flag, Griffin knew that he was in.

“You go in there trying to win,” said 38-year-old Griffin, who previously won the Vic Open in 2014. “I felt like I was in the mix right up to 15. When I saw the leaderboard on 17, I saw that Dimi and Ben had kicked away so I was then just trying to qualify for the Open. It’s a very nice consolation.

“This will be my second. I played Royal Birkdale (in 2017), missed the cut by two shots. I played all right. It was an amazing experience. I think that first Open you’re really just soaking it in. This one, I’ll soak it in but I’ll get there and really try to compete. St Andrews for the 150th, that’s going to be extra special.”

Papadatos played the Open at Royal Portrush in 2020 where he missed the cut.

“The Open is just an added bonus,” he said. “I was just trying to get the win today so that was definitely the highlight. I’ll worry about The Open when it comes. To win this is outstanding.”

It was his fourth win on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia. “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.

“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.

As for Campbell, he was happy too. “It’s always nice to finish second if you have a bonus like that,” he said. “It takes the sour taste out of your mouth a little bit.

“I shot six under to finish the day and it’s going to be nice heading to St Andrews. I’ve played there quite a bit, a lot as an amateur. It should be awesome.

“I played the St Andrews Links Trophy. I actually went close to winning it one year. I would’ve played 20 times around the Old Course, and it’ll be quite nice having played there so much feeling a little bit more comfortable.

“This will be my first major. Hopefully (Prime Minister) Jacinta Ardern is letting people into New Zealand by then so I can have some family come along.”

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