For Papadatos, this victory comes on top of his 2014 win at the New Zealand Open and his wins at the 2017 Victorian Open and WAPGA Championships and so, in comparison with many of his peers who are receiving recognition for their potential, Papadatos has already achieved what others are still trying to do.
The burly 26-year-old has long flown under the radar and avoided so much of the hype and speculation afforded to many other young Australian stars, some of whom have yet to win an event anywhere.
Since his win at the revamped NZ Open in 2014, Papadatos has undergone a series of minor injuries, motivational and form issues but he appears to be emerging as a genuine equal to the likes of Lucas Herbert, Cameron Davis, Ryan Ruffels and others who have taken much of the limelight while Papadatos has gone quietly about his business.
“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," said Papadatos.
“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.
“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.”
Papadatos turned professional in early 2013 and gained early success when he finished 3rd at the European/Australian Tour’s ISPS Handa Perth International (still his biggest cheque). In early 2014 he would win the New Zealand Open which appeared as if it might set up a career on whichever tour he decided to pursue.
Papadatos, who had a leaning towards playing in Europe because he felt his game was better suited by European courses and perhaps because of his family background there, pursued opportunities in Europe although frustratingly he has been unable to secure his full European Tour status via the Tour School.
With the assistance of player manager, Chubby Chandler, he was able to secure starts on the Challenge Tour but by the end of 2016 he had reached the conclusion he needed to work much harder than he had been if he was to succeed even at the secondary level.
He played the occasional event on the European Tour via invite and arrived at the realisation, after playing with some of that Tour’s leading players, that he was a long way from where he needed to be if he was to reach the level he felt his game was capable of.
That resulted in a greater work ethic in late 2016 and early 2017 culminating in his win at the Oates Victorian Open and the WA PGA but 2017 in Europe was again a disappointing campaign and he returned to Australia unsure just what direction things should take.
A decision to work with Sydney-based golf coach Gary Barter appears to be paying dividends, an 11th place at one of his favourite tournament venues at Lake Karrinyup in February was followed by a solid week at this year's New Zealand Open and it was on to Europe to begin his quest to gain access to the European Tour.
In just his 6th event in 2018 and his first event in Europe for the year at the 56° Open de Portugal @ Morgado Resort, a secondary Challenge Tour event, Papadatos won by two over local Jose-Filipe Lima and France’s Antoine Roza.
The €32,000 for the victory moves Papadatos to 9th on the Challenge Tour's Road to Ras Al Kaimah Order of Merit but more importantly it guarantees him the right to play Challenge Tour events for the remainder of the season and will likely earn him starts in the occasional European Tour event also.
The leading 15 players on the Challenge Tour at season's end are guaranteed the right to play the European Tour in 2019.
With his win yesterday and the confidence and self-belief it will no doubt bring, the name Papadatos can be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Davis, Herbert and Ruffels and justifiably so.
COPY KOEPKA FROM THE LONG GRASS
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