A season that has showcased a host of first-time winners is missing one notable name.
It started back in December with back-to-back breakthrough victories by Blake Windred and Jack Thompson. It reached a crescendo with Jed Morgan’s Australian PGA Championship coming out party at Royal Queensland, Todd Sinnott earned his first win on home soil at TPS Victoria and Harrison Crowe added his name to a short list of amateur champions at the NSW Open at Concord.
With two weeks left in the 2021/2022 ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia season, Louis Dobbelaar is desperate to join them.
This week’s 2021 edition of the Nexus Advisernet WA Open at Royal Fremantle Golf Club represents Dobbelaar’s next opportunity in a season in which they have felt abundant.
He led the Australian PGA after Round 1 before finishing third, was third the next week at the Queensland PGA Championship at Nudgee, seventh at TPS Hunter Valley at Cypress Lakes and last Sunday shot 65 to earn a share of ninth at the CKB WA PGA Championship at Kalgoorlie.
A win is inevitable, yet the level-headed 20-year-old knows forcing it won’t make it come any faster.
“I think I just need to be patient,” said Dobbelaar, who only turned professional in November last year.
“My game’s not the issue, I just need to stay patient.
“Obviously Jed being a good mate of mine and having a win early was awesome to see but it also gave me some hope to know that I can win as well.”
Whether he wins or not, the consistency of Dobbelaar’s play has put him in position to take up one of the rewards on offer for the top-five finishers on the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit.
Currently sixth with two events left, Dobbelaar is just $1,622 shy of fifth-placed Anthony Quayle, the top five to receive entry into the final stage of Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School later this year.
Two high finishes can earn Dobbelaar one of the three 2023 DP World Tour cards also up for grabs but he remains focused on the job at hand at Royal Fremantle.
“It’s pretty clear what I need to do,” Dobbelaar said of his Order of Merit aspirations.
“Of course I’m checking it, but it’s not the first thing on my mind. I’m just trying to play good golf and wherever that takes me I’ll take it.
“I know what I need to do, just need to keep moving up.
“There’s plenty to play for these next two weeks but if it’s the first thing on your mind then you’re probably a bit distracted.”
Exempt on the PGA TOUR of Latinoamerica this year, Dobbelaar’s position on the Australasian Order of Merit has convinced him to complete the season in his home country rather than return to South America.
When the Australasian season finishes at next week’s NT PGA Championship, Dobbelaar will turn his attention to mainland America in what he hopes will culminate with a start at the Korn Ferry Tour qualifying school at the end of the year.
“The priority is to do a good job of playing in Australia and with the pathway that we now have here it’s a good option for a lot of guys starting out and trying to put some results on the board,” Dobbelaar said of the three DP World Tour cards and Korn Ferry Tour exemptions.
“I’m in the final stage of US Open qualifying so I’ll be heading over there for that and if I can get to final stage of Korn Ferry Q School that’s the ultimate goal.
“Twelve months ago golf wasn’t looking too promising back here but now all these opportunities have come up for guys playing in Australia. It’s definitely more of a reason to do well here and reap the rewards of the Tour.”
But Dobbelaar won’t have it all his own way at Royal Fremantle from Thursday.
Amateur Hayden Hopewell returns to defend the title he won on his home course 18 months ago, seven of this season’s winners are in the field and 12 of the top 20 on the Order of Merit who will be out to improve their standing.
ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit (through WA PGA Championship)
1. Jediah Morgan $190,408.77
2. Blake Windred $124,573.33
3. Andrew Dodt $111,230.70
4. Dimitrios Papadatos $105,618.50
5. Anthony Quayle $97,217.33
6. Louis Dobbelaar $95,596.10
7. Aaron Pike $89,625.83
8. Brad Kennedy $85,985
9. Jarryd Felton $77,680
10. Jordan Zunic $73,460.77