By Paul Prendergast.
Photo: Golfplus Media
With just two events remaining on the PGA Tour of Australasia season, predictions of who will fill the all-important top 3 postions on the final Order of Merit race continue to be cloaked in undertainty following the completion of the WA PGA Championship in Kalgoorlie.
OOM leader Jed Morgan cannot be caught and although not contending, was able to extend his lead by making the weekend cut. Blake Windred’s chance to consolidate his second place position was dashed with a disastrous second round 79 to miss the cut, as were Aaron Pike’s (7th) hopes of improvement after bookending his second round with 7s at the opening and closing holes to miss the weekend by two strokes.
With Anthony Quayle (5th) absent, the fortunes of Andrew Dodt (3rd), Dimi Papadatos (4th) and Louis Dobbelaar (6th) made for compelling viewing despite all three being in the middle of the pack and out of contention for the title ultimately won by NSW’s Jay Mackenzie.
Paired together, it was the younger Dobbelaar who made the early move over Papadatos (pictured) on Sunday, making the turn in three-under while Papadatos had struggled to two-over. Although Papadatos steadied the ship slightly over the closing holes, it was Dobbelaar who made the most of his start by posting the round of the day, a seven-under par 65 that vaulted him into a tie for 9th place.
That result ensures the young Queenslander swapped places with his good mate Quayle on the Order of Merit. Courtesy of his finish ahead of Dodt in Kalgoorlie, Papadatos narrowed the gap between the two in the race for the 3rd position and a guaranteed card for Europe.
The players now make the long trek to Royal Fremantle for the $150,000 WA Open starting on Thursday before the season culminates with the $150,000 NT PGA Championship at Palmerston the following week.
Both Quayle and Dodt are absent from the entry list for the WA Open, leaving the door ajar for the aforementioned players and those (Jarryd Felton & Jordan Zunic, in particular) clinging to faint hopes of making the leap into the Top 3 come Sunday evening at Palmerston.
As past NT PGA champions, both Pike and Zunic both know how to win in the Top End and Papadatos is certainly no stranger to events at Palmerston, dating back to his amateur days. How they deliver under this mounting pressure at Royal Fremantle this week however, will determine a great deal moving forward.