For Vic Open qualifiers Dimitrios Papadatos, Ben Campbell (pictured) and Matt Griffin their experience at the 150th Open at St Andrews has been one to cherish.
The trio scored themselves a ticket to golf’s oldest major championship by finishing in the top three at 13th Beach in January, and despite not making the cut, they could not be prouder of their journeys to the Home of Golf.
New Zealander Campbell was positioned best on the leaderboard at one-over par, although he agonisingly fell one stroke short of the cut line after making bogeys at 15 and 17 to close out his second round.
That finish was a bitter pill to swallow for the Vic Open runner-up but he described his major debut as a positive experience.
“I had a good time but when you miss the cut by one it’s never nice. It’s an amazing place here and to play your first major around here is pretty special so I’ll look back and think it has been an amazing time,” Campbell said.
“Massive crowds and it’s pretty cool to be a part of it. Especially holes like 16, 17, 18 the crowd is all right there it’s so pretty special.”
Griffin, who made his second appearance at The Open after teeing it up at Royal Birkdale in 2017, played some excellent golf in a group that included Vic Open champion Papadatos to finish two-over despite wrestling with the nastiest conditions of the week on Thursday evening.
“The game felt good. Yesterday teeing off at 3:40, playing for 6 hours 20 minutes and shooting two-over wasn’t the worst score. I go away pretty happy with my game,” Griffin said.
“It’s an amazing experience to play at St Andrews in the 150th. We played the loop with Tiger twice today and the atmosphere was just insane. It’s incredible to get here through the Vic Open.”
Papadatos struggled in yesterday’s howling winds and fading light, but his second start at The Open – he played at Royal Portrush in 2019 – has proved to be an invaluable fact finding mission.
“Unbelievable week. I was a bit short but still pretty good. The course is pretty tricky so you have to play pretty well around here. 50,000 people on top of that doesn’t make it any easier,” he said.
“Amazing the opportunity that the Vic Open gave me to come and play the biggest event in the world against the best players. It’s a great experience and I’ve learned a lot. Obviously getting a few practice rounds with guys like Smithy, Matt Fitzpatrick and Tony Finau, I just try and take as much as I can from it and get a little bit better.”
ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit Jed Morgan was the other player in the field to earn his place during the Australian summer and those opportunities will be up for grabs once again later this year.
The Open qualifying events are yet to be confirmed, however the Australian Open is set to once again have spots on offer, like it did pre-pandemic, and the DP World Tour co-sanctioning for the national open and the Australian PGA Championship is set to open many doors to ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia players.