Dimi Papadatos’ decision not to defend his 2017 WA PGA Championship title last week has paid off. The New South Welshman claiming the 56˚ Open de Portugal @ Morgado Golf Resort in his first European Challenge Tour start of 2018.
Papadatos, who was not originally planning to tee it up in Portimão and only booked his flights to Portugal the Friday before the tournament, managed a three-under-par final round in windy conditions to defeat home favourite José-Filipe Lima and Frenchman Antoine Rozner by two shots.
“It feels pretty good and a big relief, especially after the last couple of days,” Papadatos said. “It’s been very windy and difficult, you had to grind out results in such a bunched field when it’s very hard to break away and get in front. But I was fortunate enough to do that in the end.
“I’ve had a couple of wins back in Aus and I’ve never won in Europe, so it’s maybe not the biggest but it’s definitely the most important as it’s going to get me going over here.”
The 26-year-old began the final day one behind overnight leaders Lima and Stuart Manley before birdies at the 3rd and 4th holes earnt him the lead on his own at six under. Another birdie at the par-5 10th kept the 2017 Oates Vic Open champion in front, before Lima fought back with birdies of his own at the 9th and 10th.
Papadatos then gave the chasing pack hope with a bogey at the par-5 16th. But immediately regained the dropped shot at the par-3 17th, which he followed with a par at the last to sign for a fourth round 69 and seven under par total.
Needing a birdie at the last to force a playoff, Lima made his third bogey of the day to finish two shots back of the Australian, who will now reassess his plans for the remainder of 2018 after previously having only limited status on Europe’s secondary Tour.
“I was just going to come over for Walton Heath for the US Open qualifier, but with my category I happened to get in here. I was second reserve for Spain next week, so the win might sneak me in there now,” Papadatos said.
The victory sees Papadatos rise to a career high 240th on the world ranking as well as jumping to 9th on the Challenge Tour’s Road to Ras Al Khaimah standings courtesy of his €32,000 first-place cheque. The top-15 players on the season-long race earning status on the main European Tour, meaning the New South Wales Central Coast product is closer than ever to one of his primary goals.
“I’ve been trying the last two or three years to get myself going in Europe and onto the main tour, so this is a big step forward and it’s going to help me out a lot,” he said.