Dimi Papadatos has joined the likes of golfing legends Peter Thomson and Kel Nagle as multiple winners of the Vic Open.
The 30-year-old from New South Wales held his nerve to drain a tricky five-foot downhill putt on the final hole at 13th Beach on Sunday and claim a one-shot victory over New Zealander Ben Campbell.
But there was a pretty significant silver lining for Campbell and third-placed Matthew Griffin, as the top three finishers all earned starts at the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews in July.
"It's been a long time since my last win in Portugal four or five years ago and I wasn't sure if I still had it in me," Papadatos said. "The Open is just an added bonus.
"I was obviously just trying to get the win today and that's definitely the highlight. I'll worry about the Open when it comes."
Papadatos, whose only previous appearance at a major was the 2019 Open at Royal Portrush, closed with a six-under 66 for a four-round total of 21-under 267.
He and Campbell (66) both birdied the final hole in a grandstand finish.
"I felt pretty comfortable over it – surprisingly," the former Toukley Golf Club junior said. "It was a bit of a nightmare putt, left to right and downhill with the wind off the left, but it went straight in so that was good."
Having previously saluted at 13th Beach in 2017, Papadatos was honoured to join the likes of celebrated major champions Thomson and Nagle as multiple Vic Open winners.
"I'm very happy with that - it goes to show I didn't fluke it the first time," he said. "I'm just so happy to get my game back and start playing alright again."
Having recently begun working on his game with Cameron Smith’s coach Grant Field, the win was a confirmation of his hard work in recent times and Papadatos’ own assessment that he isn’t the strongest ball striker on Tour but can still win tournaments courtesy of his short game prowess.
“My best isn’t usually very good anyway,” Papadatos joked. “I am always struggling with the ball striking, but that’s sort of how I get it around. I have started to accept that a little more, when I hit a bad shot or average iron shot, I don’t beat myself up. Try not to get to down with myself.”
Griffin, who was also hoping to become a two-time winner of the Vic Open after triumphing in 2014, claimed the final Open slot on offer after finishing third at 16-under with a final round of 70.
"I felt like I was close to the lead and then realised around 16 that I was a few back and it was projected top-three," he said.
"I just wanted to make sure I didn't make a mistake on the last hole."
"I'm very happy with that - it goes to show I didn't fluke it the first tim." - Dimi Papadatos.
Fellow Victorian Josh Younger (70) was a shot further back in outright fourth at 15-under.
Having led after each of the opening three rounds, New South Welshman John Lyras slipped back to a tie for fifth with David Micheluzzi on 14-under after closing with a two-over 74. Brad Kennedy a shot further back after the round of the day, a seven-under 65.
Papadatos will also earn three consecutive DP World Tour later this year and a big chance to take one of the three cards on the circuit after reaching fourth on the Order of Merit for the PGA Tour of Australasia.
“It was tough travelling in Europe a few years ago and a few change ups have obviously worked for me pretty well, it all came together this week.”
* Addittional reporting, Jimmy Emanuel