Unexpected playing opportunities on the European Tour have convinced Dimi Papadatos to change tack in 2019 and ride a more fluid and unpredictable playing schedule.
Tied for 21st at the Trophee Hassan II tournament in Morocco last week, Papadatos is one of 13 Australians teeing it up in the Volvo China Open this week which is co-sanctioned between the European and Asian tours.
Originally entered to play the Challenge Tour’s Challenge de Espana this week, Papadatos’s current world ranking of 196 was enough to earn a start at Genzon Golf Club in Shenzhen. Despite not having a full card he intends to continue to pursue starts on the main tour throughout the year.
A win early in the 2018 Challenge Tour season convinced the New South Welshman to focus his energies on the secondary tour as he pursued promotion but he believes opportunities early in the season to accrue Race to Dubai points are too good to ignore.
“I feel like if I play well I can contend on the European Tour. There’s no reason not to take the opportunities now when I get them,” Papadatos said.
“If I play reasonably well the next couple of months on the main tour I’ll probably keep playing whatever I can get and play a bit of Challenge Tour in between and see what pans out.
“It’s not ideal but you’ve got to deal with it. It’s just the situation I’m in with a conditional card and trying to get onto the tour.
“I’m a chance of getting in the British Masters next week and I might go close to a start in Denmark the week after.
“I was surprised I got a start in Morocco so by the looks of things I might get a few more starts than first anticipated.
“I get to play The Open and Dunhill Links off my Aussie category so they’re two good opportunities to get some ranking points up.
“I’ll just have to play it by ear at the moment.”
Players in this week’s Challenge Tour event in Spain are competing for €200,000 in prize money while Papadatos will be vying for a slice of almost €2.7 million at the Volvo China Open.
It goes to show why the risk is potentially worth the reward but he hasn’t ruled out a return to the Challenge Tour later in the year.
“This year I’m going to miss the first few events but it’s very top-heavy at the back-end of the year on the Challenge Tour,” said Papadatos, who earned conditional status by finishing 21st on the Challenge Tour moneylist in 2018.
“As long as you can make the final three events on the Challenge Tour you’re a good chance of getting your card for the next year.
“I just booked a return flight to come home in November but other than that I’ve got no idea when I’ll come back to Aus. I’ll just have to see how it’s all going.”
Joining Papadatos in the field in China this week are Jason Scrivener, Jake McLeod, Scott Hend, Sam Brazel, Wade Ormsby, Zach Murray, Daniel Nisbet, David Gleeson, Deyen Lawson, Min Woo Lee, Marcus Fraser and making his first start since wrist surgery last November, 2013 Volvo China Open champion Brett Rumford.
Ben Eccles is the sole Australian playing the Challenge Tour’s Challenge de Espana in northern Spain this week along with Kiwi Josh Geary.
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