A month after just missing out on a European Tour card, Dimi Papadatos is positioned for a shot at the Australian PGA Championship thanks in part to a “good six” on the par-5 9th.
Starting the second round at RACV Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast one shot off the lead, Papadatos dropped a shot on the par-3 second but made three birdies in the space of five holes, completing a 2-under par round of 70 to be 7-under and outright leader as the afternoon groups teed off.
Former champion Harold Varner III made a blistering start to his second round with birdies on each of his opening three holes to also get to 7-under but a double-bogey on the second halted his momentum, making a good par save on the ninth for a 69 and 6-under at the halfway mark.
Runner-up at the Australian Open two weeks ago, Papadatos birdied the par-5 ninth hole on Thursday but despite dropping a shot on Friday said he was able to take momentum into his back nine.
“I hit my second shot and was a bit too aggressive and pulled it into the water,” Papadatos said of his approach to a pin cut on the left side of the green.
“The drop almost rolled back into the hazard and was in a terrible lie so I had to stand on the rocks to play my next shot.
“I chipped the next one into the bunker and then ended up getting up and down.
“It was a good six in the end.”
Varner had similar issues on the hole that is playing almost half a shot easier than its par but made a sand save from the front right trap to make 5 and stay in close proximity to the top of the leaderboard.
“You know, to hit it in the water on 9 and make par and a little bit of luck, that’s the kind of things you need to go your way,” said Varner, the 2016 Australian PGA Champion at Royal Pines.
“It is what it is. I was trying to hit it 20 yards right of that. It’s just a tough tee ball, but hindsight’s 20/20.
“I wish I would have hit driver, either driver or 4 iron, but it is what it is.
“I wasn’t relieved (when the putt went in), it was just more that’s what you have to do playing golf. When things aren’t going your way, find a way to get them going and do that.
“That’s why I play, so I yelled out something that gets me going.
“I think something good’s going to happen. The last two holes today were really good.
“Just excited to be here and have an opportunity.”
Despite having ideal conditions the best of the morning scores belonged to Canadian Nick Taylor who posted a 4-under par round of 68 to get back to 2-under, the Bermuda grass greens and wicked pin positions keeping a potential birdie blitz at bay.
“The conditions were perfect this morning but there were a couple of tricky pins out there as well that can catch you out really quickly,” said Papadatos, who played the back-9 in 1-under thanks to a birdie at the par-5 12th.
“The greens are a great surface but the grain is very tricky to read. You’ve got to be pretty spot on with that.
“There’s a low score out there. It is tricky but it is definitely doable.
“It’s one of those courses where you have to be playing well the whole round.
“As soon as you hit one bad shot on any of the holes you’ve got a bit of a task ahead of you.”
Either a win on Sunday or top spot on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit would earn Papadatos full status on the European Tour for 2019, status he essentially gave up when he reported a rules infraction at the Challenge Tour Championship in the United Arab Emirates last month.
Refusing to believe karmic forces are now at work – “you make your own luck definitely in this game” – Papadatos was pleased that he had been able to bounce back so quickly.
“I’ve had a few disappointments in my career and I’ve just learnt the longer you worry about it, the worse it gets,” said the 27-year-old who claimed the Portugal Open earlier this year.
“If I get too upset about it, it doesn’t really work out too well for me.
“I think I’m in good position, can’t ask for much more than that going into Saturday.”