Australia’s Dimi Papadatos has claimed his fourth professional victory with a stunning win in the European Challenge Tour’s Portugal Open.
The three-time ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia winner carded a three-under 69 to come from one behind on a difficult final day and eventually win by two.
Windy conditions made scoring tough all week but Papadatos, who only decided late last week to tee up in the event, showed his mettle with scores of 73-66-73 to give himself a chance heading to Sunday.
“It feels pretty good and a big relief, especially after the last couple of days,” said Papadatos, the 2014 New Zealand Open champion.
“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.”
Papadatos took the lead with back-to-back birdies at the third and fourth and extended it with a third birdie of the day at the 10th.
A bogey at the par-5 16th slowed his momentum temporarily but he hit back with a birdie two at the 17th to cruise to victory.
“I played the course well today. I was very solid finishing long par putts, and I didn’t threaten to make many birdies as I was hitting it poorly today,” he said.
“But I hung in there and my short game was good and I took a couple of opportunities when I got them.
“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.”
With the win moving him to ninth on the Road to Ras Al Kjaimah money list, the Central Coast native has taken a big step towards playing rights on the European Tour next season.
The top-15 at the end of the year earn status on the main tour with the leading money winner receiving a full card. With limited opportunities prior to this win, Papadatos made the difficult decision to not defend his TX Civil & Logistics WA PGA Championship in Kalgoorlie, where New Zealand’s Michael Long claimed the title on Sunday.
The decision clearly paid dividends for the 2017 ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Player of the Year.
“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,” Papadatos said.
“It was a tough decision not staying to defend my WA PGA win. It’s always great to go back to where you have won but I knew I had to take the opportunity in Portugal as I had very limited starts in Europe this year, so I had to go and make the most of it.
“I flew into Portugal on Monday lunchtime and only booked my flights last Friday, so this tournament wasn’t even on my radar. 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.”