Big lures adding spice to Aust tour finale

NSW's Dimi Papadatos has boosted his chances of collecting some big rewards at the PGA Tour of Australasia's season-ending NT PGA Championship.

DIMI PAPADATOS.
DIMI PAPADATOS. Picture: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

A spot in opening event of Greg Norman's mega-rich LIV Golf series is up for grabs when the PGA Tour of Australasia's season-ending NT PGA Championship which began on Thursday.

The top two players on the tour's Order of Merit - money list - have been offered berths in the field in the Saudi-backed $A28 million tournament at the Centurion club outside London next month.

Australian PGA Championship winner Jed Morgan is already assured of topping the OOM and has indicated he'll jump at the chance to play an event where even the last placegetter is guaranteed to pick up $A166,500.

The other spot - and other coveted bonuses for top five OOM finishes - will provoke plenty more anxious moments for some in the $A150,000 NT PGA Championship at Palmerston GC south of Darwin.

Daniel Gale (NSW) and Victoria's David Micheluzzi both shot flawless seven-under 64s on Thursday to share the first-round lead by one shot from Queensland's Kade McBride.

Of the few players in a position to challenge for second place on the OOM - currently held by Blake Windred, who is not paying this event - Dimi Papadatos is best placed after shooting a 67 to be tied eighth. He is currently fourth on the OOM.

It could have been so much better for Papdatos who was tied for the lead before copping late bogeys at the 14th, 16th and 18th holes.

Fellow New South Welshman Andrew Dodt, who is less than $1000 ahead of Papadatos in third on the OOM, is one shot further back after a 68.

The top three players on the OOM all earn cards on the DP World Tour - formerly the European Tour - while the top five gets starts in final qualifying for the Korn Ferry Tour in the US.

Another well positioned to climb from his seventh spot on the OOM is former NT PGA champion Aaron Pike who shot a 67.

Joint tournament leader Micheluzzi (13th on OOM) needed just eight putts in his first nine holes and 21 for the round as he holed out from off the green three times.

"I feel like the putts have been coming because I haven't holed many this season at all and then they just all dropped in one round," said Micheluzzi, who has had five top-10 finishes this season.