Fiji is a favourite destination for those with time on their hands. And one semi-retired New Zealander will be on hand for this week’s Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways.
Superstar caddie Steve Williams will return to work at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course when he picks up the looping duties for Australian rising star Dimi Papadatos.
Having spent a decade and a half with Tiger Woods and Adam Scott, these days Williams 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 Fiji International begins on Thursday.
“I don’t think the old turn up, keep up, shut up will apply,” says Papadatos 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 Ryan Fox for the opening two rounds. Williams has carried Fox’s bag in Queenstown the past two years and Papadatos, who is good friends with the Auckland pro, 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,” says Papadatos.
“He answered with a couple of thoughts on different things. But then he said the best way he could help was by actually caddieing 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 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 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,” Papadatos said.
“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.”
While not sure what to expect over the 72 holes of the tournament, Papadatos says he knows what not to expect. “He’s not out there for just a walk in in the park and a chat. I know that.
“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 from you and that will be great.
“I haven’t had a professional caddie too often, I’ve usually just had mates on the bag. I do my own numbers and that sort of thing so this will be a whole new level.”
Papadatos’ form has improved markedly since he recently started working with Sydney teaching professional Gary Barter. 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,” he says. “I’m feeling good about things this year, though. I feel like everything is moving in the right direction.”