Harold Varner III knows Michael Jordan will be watching.
Dimitrios Papadatos knows his manager, Braith Anasta, would happily take his place in the field at the Australian PGA Championship at RACV Royal Pines Resort.
Two of the front-runners through 36 holes each have a sporting superstar in their corner with golf running deep in their veins.
Twelve months ago Varner III received a text from the greatest basketballer of all time with an invitation to represent the Air Jordan brand on the world’s golf courses while Papadatos only linked with Anasta, the former NRL premiership winner who played for both New South Wales and Australia, prior to the Australian Open a fortnight ago.
A good golfer himself who once played in the NSW PGA Championship at Wollongong Golf Club, Anasta strode the fairways of Royal Pines salivating at the prospect of Papadatos playing his way onto the European Tour while Jordan’s support of Varner is coming from a bit further afield.
“I’m sure he knows,” Varner said of Jordan’s awareness of his Australian PGA appearance.
“I haven’t spoken to him. I’ll see him at Christmas. I’m sure he knows; has an idea.”
Sporting the Air Jordan Trainer ST golf shoes, cap and polo shirt on Friday, Varner is one of a number of golf ambassadors for the Air Jordan brand, but hinted as to who wears it best out of he, Luke Donald, Pat Perez and Keegan Bradley.
“I’ll keep that to myself, but you know what I’m thinking,” Varner said after a second straight round of 69.
Proving to have just as good a timing in player management as he did on the football field, Anasta signed Papadatos to his company SEARoo Sports prior to the Australian Open at The Lakes, where his second-place finish earned him a place in the field for next year’s Open at Royal Portrush in Ireland.
“I’m one hundred per cent certain he’ll be going. He’s very keen,” Papadatos said of Anasta’s likely trip to Ireland next July.
“We’ve been speaking to each other for months now, and obviously because of the position I was in, being close to getting a European Tour card, it was a tough decision which management group to go to and how it would benefit me for the future.
“But I’m very happy to sign with Braith. It’s been awesome so far.”
Sponsorship deals with the iconic Coogee Bay Hotel and Bank of Sydney have been secured on Anasta’s watch as Papadatos joined the likes of Aron Price, Matt Stieger and Kiwi Ben Campbell in the SEARoo stable.
“They’ve got a small group of players so it’s a lot easier to get in touch with them and have more communication, get a bit of advice when we need it,” explained Papadatos.
“Also, they’ve helped a lot with getting a few sponsors on board.
“They’ve got some good connections and that’s going to help us out for the next year or so.”
As Varner knows all too well, it’s nice to have friends in high places.