NSW's Dimitrios Papadatos has ground out a hard fought one under 71 in blustery conditions to win the 2017 Oates Vic Open by two shots.
On a tough day for scoring that saw only four players break 70 around the Beach Course at Thirteenth Beach, Papadatos employed a conservative strategy that yielded two birdies against one bogey to finish at 16 under and two strokes clear of South Australian Adam Bland and Queensland’s Jake McLeod.
“I stayed patient all day and it turned out pretty good,” Papadatos said.
“It was a massive grind. I knew it was going to be a long tough day but I played pretty solid golf and didn’t take too many risks. I was right up there so I didn’t need to chance my arm too much.”
Finishing the group ahead of his nearest rival, McLeod, Papadatos waited nervously to see if the Queenslander could make an eagle on the par-5 18th to force a playoff.
“It was a little bit nerve racking but I wasn’t too worried about it,” Papadatos said.
“I did my job and if Jake made an eagle on the last it would’ve been fantastic to go to a playoff but I wasn’t thinking about it too much.”
It is the 25-year-old’s second PGA Tour of Australasia victory, but his first on home soil after claiming the New Zealand Open in 2014.
In the years since, Papadatos has played a mix of European Challenge Tour and European Tour events, learning a tough lesson about what it takes to compete at the top echelons of world golf.
“I learned a lot last year and realised I had a lot of work to do,” said Papadatos, whose world ranking before this week was No.986.
“As hard as it was, as much I hated it over there and had a miserable time, I think it’s paid off to know what to expect when I get over there next time.
“Obviously I’m playing better than what I was in Europe. I’ve found a bit of form but the guys over there are really good.
“If I played like I did this week, over there, I’d be right up there, but week in week out I’ve got a bit of work to do.”
Coming home at the end of 2016, Papadatos committed to working hard, forgoing a Christmas break to ensure he was primed for the start of the 2017 season.
The hard work has paid off and a now confident Papadatos returns to the European Tour next week via the tri-sanctioned ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth.
“I just kept practicing in my break. Last year I had a bit of a holiday, just cruised around with my mates and didn’t do too much practice because I was golfed out,” he said.
“I told myself I wanted to be fresh for tournaments, this year I thought to myself don’t worry about being fresh, you’ve got nothing at the moment so start working straight away, you don’t need the holidays.
“I thought I was coming in to a little bit of form, it came a bit earlier than expected, but really happy with it.
“This win is massive; it’s momentum going into next week which is nice and three years exemption on the PGA Tour of Australasia which frees me up to try and work my way in to Europe again.
“I’m really looking forward to trying to get back over there.”
Papadatos collected $90,000 for his victory and he moves to the top of the Order of Merit.
* Story courtesy PGA of Australia/Golf Victoria