Queensland’s Andrew Dodt has endured a nerve-wracking conclusion to the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia season to clinch the third and final card to the DP World Tour.
A two-time winner on the DP World Tour, Dodt entered the Tailor-made Building Services NT PGA Championship in third spot, just $969 ahead of New South Welshman Dimi Papadatos.
Three shots clear of Papadatos entering the final round at Palmerston, Dodt shot 72 to Papadatos’s 71 to hold on to third and join Jed Morgan and Blake Windred as the top-three finishers on the interim Order of Merit.
Defending NT PGA champion Aaron Pike also had plenty to play for on Sunday despite failing to rein in runaway leader Austin Bautista, his birdie putt at the 72nd hole elevating him to fifth on the Order of Merit and an exemption to final stage of Korn Ferry Tour qualifying school.
Runner-up to Morgan at the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship in January, 36-year-old Dodt admitted that the lure of a return to the DP World Tour was hard to ignore in a final round where he was not at his best.
“You can try and downplay it as much as you like – a shot is still a shot and a six-foot putt is still a six-foot putt – but when you get out there there’s a little bit more meaning to it,” said Dodt.
“I was struggling. I was really struggling. Hit two greens in the first 12 holes, six overall, I holed a lot of key putts that just kept me in it.
“I never thought I’d get back there (to the DP World Tour).
“I’ve got to say a huge thanks to the PGA Tour of Australasia. I’ve now got an opportunity to go and play some more tournaments in Europe that I didn’t think I ever would again.”
Victorious at TPS Hunter Valley in March, Pike now has an exemption to the final Q school for the PGA TOUR’s primary pathway after moving from seventh to fifth by virtue of his outright fourth finish at his former home course.
“I don’t like to get ahead of myself and know what things are for because that’s when I don’t do my best work but I knew how much I had to make roughly to get past Louis (Dobbelaar) and ‘Quayley’ (Anthony Quayle) and get into that fifth spot,” said Pike, who banked $7,500 in the season finale to move $3,059 clear of Dobbelaar.
“I quickly did the maths realising that with three guys tied for fourth, that was more than likely not going to be good enough.
“I realised that that birdie putt on the last would make sure of it. If I didn’t, then I’m leaving things out of my own hands. I really had to knuckle down on that last putt and I knocked it straight in.
“Obviously it wasn’t to win the tournament but in some respects it’s still pretty bloody important.
“(Playing on an overseas tour) is something that I’ve been wanting. I had the opportunity prior to COVID and it was taken away because of COVID. Now it seems like I’ve earnt it back again and now I’ve got to make it work.”
In his first year as a professional, Dobbelaar’s sixth-place finish will provide opportunities at qualifying schools in the US and Europe, vindicating his decision to return from PGA TOUR Latinoamerica and play the entire season in Australia.
“I was planning to play every event on the Latin schedule but doing well at the Aus PGA changed everything for me,” said Dobbelaar, who was third at Royal Queensland in January.
“I tried to really plan out where I needed to be at certain times to make a certain amount of money to be in certain areas (on the Order of Merit).
“I’ll lose my Latin card more than likely but I had to give it a crack here to reap the benefits of this tour.”
Bautista’s seven-stroke victory also elevated him inside the top 10 on the Order of Merit in a season in which he also had three separate top-three finishes.
The other players to end the year inside the top 10 were Anthony Quayle (seventh), Brad Kennedy (eighth) and Daniel Gale (10th).
Interim Order of Merit (following NT PGA Championship)
1. Jediah Morgan $190,408.77
2. Blake Windred $125,285.83
3. Andrew Dodt $112,730.70
4. Dimitrios Papadatos $111,491
5. Aaron Pike $100,980.83
6. Louis Dobbelaar $97,921.10
7. Anthony Quayle $97,217.33
8. Brad Kennedy $85,985
9. Austin Bautista $81,208.96
10. Daniel Gale $79,581.88