Australia’s Dimitrios Papadatos talks candidly about the many highs and lows he has already experienced in his professional career – and how he keeps going after a number of setbacks.
Four years ago at Q-School I needed a double bogey to get a European Tour card, but I made a triple. I was playing really well that week and after almost six rounds I knew I was one inside the mark with three holes to go. Then I narrowly missed a birdie putt on 17 – but I still knew I was one inside the mark playing the last. You don’t really think about that though – you just want to make a birdie or a par and then get out of there. I hit my drive far out to the left, I was trying to hit it too far, and it rolled up under the lip of a bunker. I tried to play out but I hit it into the lip and it popped up and plugged next to me. I thought ‘surely this can’t be happening’ and ‘we’re in some trouble’. I hit it out on to the fairway, then spun it back to 50 feet, and I thought at the time I had that putt for a bogey to get my card. I gave that a bit of a run past the hole – and then obviously wasn’t the happiest person standing over my double bogey putt – so I missed that one too. I saw the cut went back so I had just missed a putt for my card.
It was a nightmare really. I continued to play poorly for a while after that, and although I had been playing poorly for a while before that week, it was really frustrating and a hiccup in my career for sure. You have to dig deep after moments like that, though, and although I let myself be down for a while, I told myself to ‘snap out of it and look at the bigger picture’. If that’s a bad thing to happen in your life it’s not too bad, I knew I’d get another opportunity the following year and I knew I’d still get a lot of opportunities to play the game that I love. It wasn’t the end of the world, even though it felt like it for a little bit.
When I won my first pro title in New Zealand in 2014 it was a pleasant surprise. But after that I struggled with my game and played really poorly for the rest of the year. I was playing terribly, flying around the world missing cuts, in Asia, invites here and there, and coming last in a few events.
It does take its toll after a while and it does beat you down big time. When you have those long stretches flying and travelling and putting so much time and effort in – along with the financial pressure as well – it gets really difficult getting through that. By the end of 2014 I was all over the shop. I went to European Tour Q-School that year and didn’t make it, then I went to Japan Q-School and pulled out after three rounds too, then I missed the cut by one at the Australian Open, so it was a really tough time.
Even though those bad times are hard, the winning feeling is very special. Winning on the Challenge Tour was awesome. I saw it as a great opportunity to earn my card as I had no status going into 2018 – I was just playing back in Oz – and I somehow got an invite to play in Portugal. I got a call on the Saturday, threw my passport in the bag, and made the journey from Perth to Portugal to see if I could turn things around – and I went on to win. I only packed for one week and I ended up staying in Europe for maybe ten or 11 weeks in a row.
I was in a pretty good position going into the Challenge Tour Grand Final last year – but I got disqualified. I had spent a lot of time inside the top 15 but I really struggled going into some of the bigger events in China and Kazakhstan, so I dropped off to 19th in the rankings and had a bit of ground to make up on the top 15.
I needed a few things to go my way and they definitely didn’t. I started off well, I was three under through nine, but then I made a triple on the tenth after hitting it in the hazard, so I had a bit of a mess there. I parred the 11th, and then on the 12th I drove it into the water and after my approach I threw my eight iron into the ground after hitting it into the water again, which I felt was fair enough as I’d had enough by then!
I checked the club to see if it was damaged. It didn’t look damaged at the time, so I put the club back in the bag and finished the following hole. Then on the next par five I hit it in the fairway trap, and as I was trying to lay up from the bunker – again not being too happy with myself as the other guys were waiting to play their fairway shots – I pulled out my eight iron again and hit it straight down on to the fairway. It wasn’t until the 17th hole when I had the club out again that I noticed in my set up the eight iron wasn’t sitting right on the ground. Because I didn’t ground my club in the bunker I couldn’t tell that it was bent, and after noticing that I had bent the club I told my caddie that I’ll report it to the officials at the end of the round as we only had two holes left and I didn’t want to make a fuss.
I was pretty sure I was going to be DQ’d. And after that I had a 14-and-a-half-hour flight home to think about it. I was quite angry at the result and how I finished the year, but I did see the positives. I know this game is going to keep beating me down, but I am slightly getting numb to it and I know there is probably more to come!
After I came home, I qualified for The Open. I had initially planned to go back to Q-School in Europe, but I decided to cut my losses and play a few events in Aus and try and end the year well – which I did by finishing second at the Aus Open. I have always dreamed of playing in Majors and competing against the best players in the world, so I can’t wait.
I don’t know what keeps me going. You just get up and you get through it. You have goals of being on the European Tour and playing at a high level and you just have to keep remembering what you have done before – I was fortunate in that I won early and had a few good results which gave me a lot of faith. I don’t do it all the time, but I know that if I play well I can compete.
You just have to keep things in perspective. You can have a bad day in golf – I am one who often gets frustrated on the course and have a quick reaction to it – but I never let it affect the rest of my life and I always try to enjoy myself. I will always strive to be the best that I can be and work really hard, but you always have to remember that it’s just a game of golf and it’s not that bad. As bad as you want it, and as hard as you work, you have to enjoy the process of getting there too.
Courtesy of Europeantour.com
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