Date: July 19, 2019
Author: Justin Falconer at Royal Portrush

Jake and Dimi depart on a high

They’ll be equally disappointed their first major experience has come to an end, but debutants Jake McLeod and Dimi Papadatos will leave Portrush on a high after strong second rounds at The Open.

Papadatos was the first Australian on course on Friday morning and his 1-over-72 was a far cry from yesterday’s opening 83.

“It was pretty bad yesterday, where it didn't feel that bad,” Papadatos said.

“But obviously that's the learning point of the majors. The tucked pins and tricky conditions wear you out pretty quickly. And before you know it you shoot 83 or whatever it was.”

The 28-year-old knuckled down on Friday and a more disciplined approach payed off, Papadatos birdieing 15 and 17 on the way back to the clubhouse to cap off an unforgettable week in Northern Ireland.

“I obviously spoke to my caddie, and we pointed out a few things and said we're just going to try to be a bit more disciplined,” Papadatos said.

“There's so many pins out there that you just can't be short-sided. It's not even a matter of getting up and down. I made a few double bogeys from being pin-high green-side.

“I was happy to have a good score today and just know that even today I felt like I could have been a handful better.

“It's nice to know that I could put a decent score on if I brought my A-game. But the B- and C-game this week wasn't too good.”

It’s been a big learning curve for the laid-back New South Welshman but there’s no alarm for Papadatos as the end of the European and Challenge Tour seasons draw near.

“I’ve got a lot of work to do, definitely. It’s obviously a big step up playing majors,” Papadatos said.

“It's good to see where your game is at. I'm not disappointed where my game is at but it's definitely made me realise I've got a lot of work to do.

“I didn't come here thinking I was going to kill it. I knew I've come off a bunch of missed cuts as it is. So it wasn't like I was in fine form or anything like that, but definitely made me realise I've got to keep sharpening up pretty much all aspects, to be honest.”

McLeod fought just as hard for his even-par 71, the Queenslander rattling off five birdies on Friday in an eye-catching performance.

It started with a bogey on the 1st hole but the 24-year-old wasn’t flustered on the game’s biggest stage, righting the ship beautifully in a sign he can hold his own at the top level.

“There wasn't much wind but when it was on the crosswind holes I was sort of getting confused which way I was going and made a couple of wrong decisions,” McLeod said.

“That kind of hurt.

“It's tough to get up and down sometimes out here. So other than the sort of three or four times, I actually played pretty well.”

The highlight of the day came on 14, when McLeod generated a roar that was heard right across Royal Portrush.

“The pin was back-left, like four to the left and I was down that steep bank, about 15 to 20 feet below the pin,” McLeod said. “Honestly I just didn't want to make a six!

“I thought ‘I’m just going to jam it into the bank and let it skip out’ and I couldn't see it. Apparently it spun right and went in.

“It was cool. I holed a birdie putt on the hole before. When I holed that one I was pretty pumped.”

McLeod will follow Papadatos home before finishing out his rookie European Tour season after some well-earned rest.

Hopefully, he’ll one day look back on mixing it with the best at golf’s oldest major as a crucial stepping stone in his career.

“It was weird, coming in I thought I'd be packing it in a bit,” McLeod said.

“But I was very happy. I was still obviously nervous, but I was just thinking about some other things. I’ll take a lot out of it.

“Next time I'll hopefully do a little bit better.”