Date: July 18, 2019
Author: Justin Falconer at Royal Portrush

Tiger run-in highlights Dimi’s dream debut

Anyone who knows him will agree it takes a fair bit to rattle Dimi Papadatos.

But when the New South Welshman headed out for a practice round on Tuesday ahead of his major debut and saw Tiger Woods waiting for him on the first tee, Papadatos was stunned.

While Woods wasn’t technically there to meet Papadatos – or fellow Aussie debutant Jake McLeod or Kiwi Ryan Fox – some quick thinking from the 28-year-old ensure he’d make the most of the chance encounter.

“We got to the first tee and there was a few people gathered around and Tiger was there pegging it up,” Papadatos said.

“It took me about 10 seconds, and I was like ‘Tiger’s here! I thought there were too many people here.’

“His manager said he was going to play the first then jump in front and go off down 13.

“I said ‘Yeah alright, no worries. Just make sure it doesn’t happen again.’

“He piped one down there and walked over and said ‘Thanks guys, I’m just going to go through unless you want to play up then I’ll get out of your way’.

“I said ’Just wait a sec mate, we’re coming with you!’

“I think we all thought for a second we’d just do the right thing and let him go, but I wasn’t letting him do the right thing. He was definitely staying with us!”

Papadatos has been looking forward to the year’s final men’s major for eight months after finishing runner-up at last year’s Emirates Australian Open.

That result was enough to punch his ticket to Royal Portrush for the 148th Open as a part of the R&A’s Open Qualifying Series, along with McLeod and eventual champion Abraham Ancer.

And while Papadatos’s week in Northern Ireland hopefully hasn’t peaked already, there’s no doubt he’ll be going home with a moment to remember forever.

“We were all quiet going up the first, trying to be all professional,” Papadatos said.

“Then we had a bit of a laugh on the second tee, saying how it’s our first major and we got to play with Tiger. We can tick that off the bucket list now.

“Even though it was only one hole on a Tuesday morning, we’ll still claim it!”

And just to get the full experience, Papadatos spent some time with the 14-time major champ’s former caddie this week too.

View this post on Instagram

Eldrick chiming in up the first today @theopen

A post shared by Dimitrios Papadatos (@dimipapadatos) on

Papadatos spent Monday playing a practice round with fellow Australian Jason Day, who is preparing for his fourth tournament with Steve Williams on the bag.

Papadatos and Williams’ friendship dates back to this time last year, where the Kiwi offered to caddie for Papadatos at the Fiji International.

“He helped me out there but he’s obviously moved on to bigger and better things,” Papadatos joked.

“It was awesome to play with them on Monday, it was nice of Jason to take time out and give me a bit of advice.

“I had lunch with him as well after the round which was pretty cool. It was good to talk to them and to be around guys like that this week.”

Papadatos’s major championship career gets under way at 11:58am local time (8:58pm AEST) on Thursday alongside American Joel Dahmen and Spaniard Adri Arnaus.

And after the week he’s had at Royal Portrush so far, the normally unflappable Aussie isn’t overly worried about the first tee nerves.

“I’ll probably feel pretty similar to how it was teeing it up with Tiger,” Papadatos said, “so I got a good practice run in!”






Learning the ropes @theopen

A post shared by Dimitrios Papadatos (@dimipapadatos) on