Fiji is a favourite destination for those with time on their hands and one very well-known, semi-retired New Zealander will be on hand for this year’s Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways.
Steve Williams, the game’s most famous caddie, will be back at work at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course when he picks up the looping duties for Australia’s Dimi Papadatos at the 2018 event.
Williams is best known for his almost decade and a half with Tiger Woods as well as guiding Adam Scott to his historic Masters win in 2013 but these days is less interested in a full time role.
Instead, he is happy to share his wealth of knowledge with some of the game’s up and coming players and Papadatos will be the beneficiary when the tournament is played from August 2-5.
“I don’t think the old turn up, keep up, shut up will apply that week,” Papadatos said with a laugh when asked about the partnership.
“In fact, he’ll probably be telling me that!”
The arrangement was born at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open earlier this year when Papadatos was paired with local Ryan Fox for the opening two rounds.
“He’s not out there for just a walk in in the park and a chat, I know that.” – Dimi Papadatos
Williams has carried Fox’s bag in Queenstown the past two years and Papadatos, who is good friends with Fox, says he and Williams got along well.
“We had some chats about different things during the week and I thought after the tournament would be a good opportunity to get some feedback from him on what he thought of my game and what I’m doing,” Papadatos said.
“He answered with a couple of thoughts on different things but then he said the best way he could help was by actually caddying for me for a week so he could see how I prepare and how I play on the course.
“He said if I was playing Fiji it would be a good place for him to jump on the bag for me and here we are! It was actually all organised a couple of months ago and confirmed a few weeks ago and now I’m really excited for the week to get underway.”
Papadatos is a three-time winner on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and also claimed a maiden European Challenge Tour title earlier this year.
That victory has him in prime position to claim a European Tour card for 2019 and the 26-year-old is determined to do everything in his power to get there.
“I’ve had a reasonable season so far and it will be great to catch up on a few things with Steve and see if he can help get me ready to get on the main Tour,” he said.
“I’m sure his advice will help me get there and once I get there, it’ll help me stay there.
“It’s definitely a vote of confidence from Steve to show a bit of faith in me and he seems to think I can do reasonably well out of the game. And he does think he can help me improve and so do I.”
While not sure what to expect over the 72 holes of the tournament, Papadatos says he knows what not to expect.
“I haven’t had a professional caddie too often, I’ve usually just had mates on the bag and I do my own numbers and that sort of thing so this will be a whole new level I’m sure.” – Dimi Papadatos
“He’s not out there for just a walk in in the park and a chat, I know that,” he says of Williams.
“He is very professional and you can tell he wants it as bad as his player does. He is giving it everything and he expects nothing less form you and that will be great.
“I haven’t had a professional caddie too often, I’ve usually just had mates on the bag and I do my own numbers and that sort of thing so this will be a whole new level I’m sure.”
Papadatos says his form at Fiji has been less than he would have liked but having recently started work with Gary Barter, a PGA Professional in Sydney and his form in 2018 much improved, the addition of Williams has him feeling confident ahead of the week.
“I really like the course and feel like the windy conditions really suit me but I’ve never played particularly well there,” he says.
“I’m feeling good about things this year, though. I feel like everything is moving in the right direction for me so I’m just looking forward to getting there and getting underway.”
Olivia McMillan, PGA of Australia