Didn’t finish up the tournament last week at Hanbury Manor how I wanted to unfortunately after a very disappointing day on the golf course on Sunday. I can only put it down to feeling some exhaustion kick in after playing four events in the past five weeks but every tournament is a great opportunity for all of us right now and I’m still really enjoying playing (most of the time!). So with that in mind, after a very relaxing day off on Monday to fully recharge my batteries, we have decided to continue the journey and head over to Wales for the Celtic Classic this week!
As you will no doubt already know, this week and next, the European Tour are scheduled to play back to back events at the Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor, just outside of Cardiff. As a matter of fact I already have some incredible memories from this venue! In September 2010, as an amateur, I qualified to play in the Junior Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, and fresh after playing in that event, the whole junior squad travelled down to Celtic Manor to meet our golfing heroes and watch them bring home another European Ryder Cup victory! The Junior Ryder Cup is still, and probably will forever be, one of my favourite golfing memories. Getting to play on the amazing Centenary Course as well as being captained by the legendary Tommy Horton and Gary Stangl (for those of you who don't know who Mr Horton is, I suggest you take a quick look online to read about his amazing career and involvement in the game of golf in Europe!).
Although Celtic Manor has hosted numerous other editions of the Wales Open on European Tour since then, it is my first time back in ten years and I am really looking forward to getting started! It’s another parkland resort style course here in Wales with vast lakes a feature on at least half of the holes. However, most notably, the course is a lot longer than last week and therefore going to be a very different challenge to Hanbury Manor. Having been designed to host large scale events, this 2010 course is situated on a large area of land which therefore features some wide open fairways as well as a pretty exposed layout. Because of this, the weather could potentially be a big factor since we would be vulnerable to any strong winds coming through.
Fortunately the breezes are not forecast to get past 10-15 mph speeds on any of the four days…although there are some thundery showers predicted for the opening rounds of play which means the course will likely get soaked with rain at some point! The rest of the week looks like it will be filled with clear dry skies though!
One final day of practice and preparation here today before my first round tee time tomorrow at 13.02pm. Birdies will probably be a little harder to come by than last week but my intentions remain to go as low as we can nonetheless! Always nice to have Pieters back in the field and playing with us again too!
What an amazing experience last week at Forest of Arden. Of course, it goes with out saying that I walked off the 18th green on Sunday very disappointed with myself for that last putt…but it was hard to feel defeated for too long given the circumstances. I truly felt like I was playing some really solid golf out there on Sunday and that second place finish ended up moving me to 91st in the Official World Rankings…my highest ever position and first time inside the Top 100! I also moved nicely up to 4th place on the UK Swing Order of Merit which can help potentially bring some more opportunities too. The Top 10 not otherwise exempt players after the fifth tournament on this UK Swing will gain spots into this year’s US Open Championship at Winged Foot! Definitely another goal we are all keeping in the back of our minds…
I also want to say a quick thank you to everyone for their messages of support and congratulations over the weekend too. It feels really great to be surrounded by so many people encouraging me and rooting for me to succeed! I also received an amazing piece of advice from Justin Rose on Monday morning who told me not to be too downhearted by missing out on the win. He said that sometimes these things can be a blessing in disguise and you never know if picking up a trophy at this point would have perhaps allowed me to relax a bit instead of staying hungry and ambitious for each of the huge opportunities coming my way this summer. It's honestly amazing to get bits of advice like this from other professional athletes, especially ones you’ve grown up watching and respecting since childhood. So thanks again Justin for that extra boost of motivation - it was much appreciated! Definitely an added bonus of being part of Team Excel Sports too.
There is not too much insider knowledge to give you this week about Hanbury Manor since it is actually very similar in nature to last week’s venue at Forest of Arden. It’s another beautiful resort style parkland Golf Course with plenty of water and bunker hazards throughout. On this occasion, the front nine is the newer of the two and is generally more exposed whereas the back nine is where the tree lined fairways are the striking feature!
We also have another week of amazing weather lined up for us in Hertfordshire! Sunny with just gentle breezes for all four days.
I am off at 1.00pm alongside Brandon Stone and Oli Fisher tomorrow afternoon. Good vibes this week and ready to get things going!
Not the start I was hoping to get off to last week in Newcastle! I’m not going to make any excuses and I was actually a big fan of the Golf Club at Close House but honestly, on reflection, I just truly struggled to get anything going out there. As you might have seen, I missed a number of short putts on the greens which definitely killed my momentum a bit. But more than that, I think I also let myself get affected by the drastic changes to my usual tournament habits. I am so used to having my fitness trainer with me at events, fitting in light/heavy work outs, stretching as well as pre tournament warm ups...or my coach Jerome to help me with little issues on the range. But times are a little stricter right now and if I want to make the most of these next events then I need to adapt and be more rigorous in setting myself some routines. We are very lucky to have these tournaments up on the schedule right now and I know there’s some great opportunities to take advantage of over these next few weeks!
Moving forward and I arrived on site yesterday afternoon to the Forest of Arden Golf Resort for this week’s Hero Open. I walked the course in the early evening with my caddy and was genuinely really impressed! As a matter of fact, this venue has actually already hosted a number of British Masters and English Opens over the years and they’ve maintained a brilliant level of condition since then.
It’s a Parkland style course here which displays a bit of variety between the front and back nine layouts. The front boasts heavily tree lined fairways, countless bunkers as well as having pretty much all of the water hazards to contend with! In comparison, the back nine is surrounded by heavy heathland with wider, more generous and forgiving fairways.
Regardless of this divide, there are large greens dispersed across the entire course and each of the 18 holes will be another test of strategic navigation with some solid approaches into the greens necessary again to give ourselves the best chances of some low scoring!
Practice is all complete. Now just keeping my fingers crossed that my putter can get as hot as the temperatures forecasted for us this week so I can have a good chance of making an impact on the leaderboard !
Off at 9.15am tomorrow. Looking forward to the next challenge!
This week represents the first of six consecutive tournaments that will be played on British Soil. You can usually almost always rely on there being a significant number of animated fans at any regular event hosted in the UK!...but, unfortunately, in order to put a priority on safety at the moment, we are playing behind closed doors again..and until further notice too!
The good news for people at home though is that this week, there will be plenty of coverage of the event on your TV's.
As you can imagine, things are looking a little bit different on site now to how they were when we last played in the Middle East back in March. As a matter of fact, the European Tour are having to operate a tournament bubble for each of the competitions that they host right now which involves us players undertaking regular COVID testing as well as a number of other rules and procedures to make sure that everyone can stay protected . For example, visits to restaurants and shops are strictly prohibited so there are some long nights of room service, reading and Netflix ahead!
Although this sounds pretty strict, I know everyone here is more than happy to respect all the rules we need to in order to be back out and competing again.
Moving onto the tournament itself and this is the second time that the British Masters has been played at this venue, Close House Golf Club. Due to schedule conflicts, I didn't get the chance to play the event when it last came here in 2017 so this is the first time that I have ever visited and I am already a big fan of the place!
It's a parkland style set up this week with a number of lavishly tree lined holes but some generously wide fairways out there too. There are also a decent amount of bunkers to contend with, and most notably, some dramatic elevation changes as well! Its fair to say that a key factor this week will be a solid short game and hot putter though. The putting surfaces are pretty undulating so finding some good strategies to navigate shots in from the fairways will be a definite help too!
In terms of the forecast, unfortunately it doesn't feel like the height of summer her in Newcastle this week! Temperatures are around 17/18 degrees but with clouds and a definite chill factor. Only light showers are predicted before the weekend though so hopefully we will manage to stay dry as long as possible
Unusually it is a Wednesday start this week so its time to get out there into the Northumberland Hills this morning and start making some birdies already!
My first round tee time begins at 13.20pm today. Looking forward to getting the UK Swing off to a strong start!
And so…seventeen weeks after flying back from my last tournament…the European Tour is finally back in action!
I have to be honest, I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed an enforced break from normal life there for a while! After years of consistent and repetitive travelling, it was truly refreshing to stay in one place for a long period and really have a chance to appreciate some time with my family and friends.
As you might have seen, I spent the lockdown period on the Cornish Coast in South West England. I didn’t touch a club for 7 weeks except for a bit of fun practicing bunker shots in the sun on the beach!
Needless to say though, as soon as golf was allowed again, I was straight back out on the course! I decided to play in a small Pro Am event at the end of June which was hosted by Andy Sullivan and Paul Waring. It was a brilliantly organised day and I really loved playing Worplsdeon Golf Club too. I even managed to pick up a sneaky win in the end which was definitely an extra bonus! I then returned to Belgium to play in our annual Bank Delen Corporate Days with Thomas Pieters...these are always good fun too!
On a separate note, at the conclusion of the Qatar Masters I made a decision to change caddies. Ryan was genuinely a great guy and fantastic at his job, however, it was time for something new…and for that reason, we now find ourselves at the dual sanctioned European/Challenge Tour event this week in order to get in a good first feel of how things are with new caddie Mike on the bag!
The European Tour have done an amazing job at putting the updated 2020 schedule together. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to liaise with so many different governments and their ever-changing policies under such pressure. It is going to feel different for a while, travelling without any coaches/managers/families or friends, but regardless, I will take my schedule week by week and just stay grateful for everybody’s efforts in getting things running again with such a strong health strategy in place.
So down to business now and this week’s Austrian Open will be my first event back! Its a brilliant track here at Diamond Country Club (about an hours drive from Vienna). The European Tour has hosted many tournaments already at this venue but the last time I was here in 2017 for the Lyoness Open. The course is a great test of golf with water on 17 of the 18 holes we play! This includes down both sides of the 18th hole as well as two island green par 3’s to add a little extra intensity too! Furthermore, I am playing the first two rounds this week with Jiménez who re-designed some of the holes on this course himself a few years back!
And so that brings us to today. A full day of play and practice is complete and I feel officially ready to get back into event action once again! I was lucky enough to receive an amazing drop of new season Hugo Boss items earlier this month as well as the new GFore MG4 Plus shoes...so hopefully my game comes back out as strong as my new clothing set up!
Off at 8.10am local time tomorrow. Hoping Miguel will help to get some good vibes going early! More updates to follow...
And so we have eventually reached the final stop of our 2020 Desert Swing! Having taken a short flight North East of Muscat on Monday afternoon, we landed safely in Qatar and immediately begun preparations for my fourth appearance in the European Tour's Qatar Masters.
First and foremost it is important to flag that the event is being played at a different venue this year...so instead of our usual annual outing to Doha GC, we find ourselves at the Education City Golf Club instead! It's a newly designed course which has only officially been opened for one year. But regardless of this, I am definitely still feeling a great vibe at this event since there is always fantastic organisation and hospitality as well as the fact that I finished just outside the Top 10 here last year too!
Just to quickly touch on my performance last week in Oman, it was honestly a thoroughly enjoyable tournament with some solid ball striking but unfortunately I just never managed to build momentum on any of the days on the greens. On a separate note, I had the pleasure of playing with Brandon Stone on the first two days so even though I was wishing it was me in that final Play Off, it was still pretty impressive to see him hold his composure like that in a battle on Sunday afternoon!
Some background on the course here and it's another typically exposed desert track at Education City. There are very few trees but water plays a key feature throughout and once again, the wind will be the biggest factor for us to negotiate with. Luckily it seems that we might have had the most of the blowy conditions already over the course of the practice days though! The forecast is predicting that from tomorrow onwards, it will be much calmer with only 10-15 mph breezes to have to contend with. It's quite a long layout this week with large greens hosting some undoubtedly tucked away pins which means that distance off the tee as well as accuracy from the fairways is the combination we are after!
Early start for us tomorrow since I am scheduled to play in the first group off at 6.25am local time alongside Laurie Canter and Scott Hend (3.25am Belgian time!). Officially ready for another week of competition to begin again...Let's get this thing started!
It’s been just over three weeks since my last update but fair to say that I've been keeping myself quite busy! Following a solid finish in Saudi Arabia I spent only a short amount of time relaxing at home before travelling over to the States for some warm weather training and a chance to spend time with my sponsors as well as Team Excel Sports!
My first point of call in the US was Chicago which entailed a brief, yet incredible visit to the newly updated Campus at Illinois! The sports facilities are honestly looking unbelievable right now and it was extra special to meet some of the new Illini Golf students as well as spending a bit of time with Coach Small again too…(even though the sub 0 temperatures over there were a bit of a shock to the system!).
Next stop was San Diego and I spent an awesome two days at the Callaway HQ in Carlsbad. Alongside my agent Lance from Excel, I got the chance to spend time with a whole range of the team including both Chip Brewer and Tim Reed. I was given a complete tour of the facilities as well as a proper fitting session too! Lance and I then spent a couple of days playing some great tracks around the Los Angeles area and on my last day I also got the chance to pop into the GFORE offices! Was great to meet the whole team and look at all the awesome new stuff coming out soon too!
My final visit was to San Francisco where I spent a thoroughly enjoyable few days relaxing with family friends before taking my longest ever flight half way across the world! Sixteen and a half hours after departing from LAX, I arrived in Dubai to similarly sunny weather conditions! As a matter of fact, that long flight turned out to be a great opportunity to ret and reset my batteries after an action packed adventure week in the States and was a good chance to adjust my body clock a solid 12 hours ahead!
A few days were then well spent in Dubai with my coach Jerome at the Els Club. Training with new Mavrik Driver and Mavrik three wood and the new Callaway Chrome soft X golf ball as well. Moreover, it took me a little time in San Diego to find the right combination of driver head and shaft but after a few hours we managed to find the perfect balance between distance, dispersion and spin rate. As a matter of fact, I went back from a Subzero head to a Standard 10.5° head with a bleu Tensei Mitsubishi Chemical 60g shaft. As for the three wood, we opted for a subzero 15° head glued on a bleu Tensei Mitsubishi Chemical 70g shaft… A lethal combination!
And so that all bring us nicely up to date! We are now currently in Oman, once again, for my fourth visit to Al Mouj Golf Club! I have mentioned it previously, but this course will always be symbolic for me since it is the venue where I dramatically secured my European Tour playing rights back in 2016 since the venue used to be the host of the Challenge Tour’s Grand Final event!
The Golf Club here was designed by Greg Norman and is the first links style course in the country which lines the Indian Ocean coastline. It is built on natural sand dunes which accounts for some incredible views as well as the multiple bunker and water hazards throughout. The wide open fairways here offer favourable conditions off the tee, however, the most immediate threat to all of us will be the wind, given the direct exposure to the sea. Because of this weather dependence, the winning scores have been quite varied here over time! Fortunately for us though, only dry and sunny conditions have been predicted this week with moderate breezes throughout!
Off early tomorrow at 7.15am alongside Brandon Stone and Guido Migloizzi! Practice is complete and I am more than ready to get back into tournament action again! Lets go low!
For those of you who managed to find time to watch coverage last weekend, you will have seen that playing conditions in Dubai became a little trickier than expected! In fact, as the tournament reached its climax on Sunday, most of us were subjected to playing in winds of up to 30kmh as well as sporadic rain showers which resulted in some pretty significant movement on the leaderboard! I was really happy with my battle out there though and managed to shoot level par on the final day to secure a solid finish.
I am now preparing to play in my fourth event in a row which means adopting a slightly different approach to training in order to conserve my energy levels. To be honest, I am really happy with how my game is feeling at the moment and despite no outstanding results, I think there have been a lot of positives to take from each week I’ve played so far in 2020.
With that said, we return to Royal Greens Golf & Country Club this week in Jeddah for the 2nd edition of the Saudi International! Although immersed in its fair share of political controversy last year, the inaugural edition was honestly a thoroughly enjoyable and well organised event and it feels great to be back. Its also worth noting that It’s an intimidatingly strong field this week since many of the Top 50 (including Dustin Johnson, Mickleson & Kopeka) have taken time off the PGA Tour to join us!
Once again, the course is in brilliant condition and given that the Club was only completed in 2017, the hospitality and facilities are still in immaculate shape too. As you might already know, the course here is entirely carved out of a desert landscape and runs along the Red Sea Coastline which results in us getting to enjoy some unequivocally stunning views once again! Its a relatively short layout featuring only two par 5's as well as light rough... but there are still plenty of hazards to avoid with endless amounts of sand and 4 sizeable lakes to contend with too! However, this should be another low scoring week for us and if I can get my putter hot then I should be in with a good chance of another strong finish!
Really happy with my grouping this week! I play alongside Erik Van Rooyen and Matthias Schwab who both had quite inspirational seasons last year and are great guys to spend time with! First round tee time tomorrow is 7.45am…another early alarm clock but practice is all complete and Im ready to get back into action!
The purpose of this blog was to give my fans a true and honest insight into my golfing journey, so I think it's important that this incorporates details of both the lows as well as all the highs. I therefore shouldn't start this week's update without first referencing my weekend in Abu Dhabi.
To say that I was disappointed walking off the golf course on Sunday would be an understatement. As a matter of fact, in advance of arriving on the tee that day, I honestly felt more calm and relaxed that I ever have done being in contention on the final day of a Rolex Series event. But unfortunately, there was clearly still some underlying tension in my body that resulted in a significant impact on my performance. Getting off to a shaky start unsettled me and it just felt like a constant battle to keep away the sense of disappointment and despondency that that generated for the rest of the round.
With the benefit of hindsight, I know it is an ongoing responsibility for me to remain positive in these situations and I'm aware of how lucky I am to have such a strong & supportive team around to help me grow stronger from these experiences. I was reminded yesterday of a great quote that Winston Churchill once said: 'Success consists of going from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm.' And with that, the journey continues...
And so...we move onto one of my favourite tournaments of the season...the Dubai Desert Classic! Once again we return to the Majilis Course at Emirates Golf Club and what a place it is! Embedded within the heart of the City we have consistently incredible views of the skyline throughout our walk along the fairways. Given that we are in the desert, it is another exposed layout here, however, in contrast to Abu Dhabi, the course is shorter which also means that a more strategic approach is required to navigate some of the trickier holes, especially when the conditions get windy. The greens are in incredible condition as per usual too!
The weather forecast this week is for predictably clear and sunny skies but there will be light winds picking up each afternoon and also some very gusty breezes expected on Sunday too.
Another strong field again this week but I am looking forward to the challenge and getting back into action already! Off at 7.20am on Thursday morning. Let's get this thing going!
And it’s back to the the Desert after a great week last week in South Africa! As a matter of fact, it turns out it was more strategic than expected for me to play in the South African Open since it helped me avoid practicing in some awful weather conditions here in Dubai! I know that quite a few of the players not competing in Joburg travelled over to the Middle East early in order to get some warm weather training in…but they were then bitterly disappointed and bored when they became confined to their hotel rooms watching the howling winds and rain circulate from their windows instead!
Thankfully the storm has now calmed and everyone has made the journey over to Abu Dhabi for this week’s tournament which is the first Rolex Series event of the 2020 season!
It’s back to the Abu Dhabi Golf Club again for my 4th appearance, but also the 15th scheduling of this Championship on the European Tour calendar. I think it’s undeniable that there is a heightened sense of magic playing in events which return to the same venue each year. The memories you accumulate just become more poignant each time you return! There are also some pretty spectacular views of the City skyline for spectators walking round out here too...
As you may already know, the course this week is traditionally quite low scoring but by no means easy. The fairways are tight with thick penal rough as well as intricate bunkering featuring across key landing spots. This means that accuracy, as ever, will be of significant importance. It is also quite exposed out here but fortunately we don’t have any further unusual weather conditions scheduled, just light winds and sunny temperatures for the next four days!
The full team is here with me in the Middle East which is always a bit of a confidence boost and makes the time away from the course more enjoyable! Keeping relaxed and rested is important for me at the moment since I am playing four weeks in a row, but I am balancing things well so far and definitely looking forward to the first Rolex Challenge of the year now! Off at 9.00am this morning and 13.25pm tomorrow. Keep tuned for more updates!
Born in Brussels on January 13th, 1993, Thomas lives in Brussels (Uccle), Belgium
Member of the Royal Golf Club of Belgium, he has played on a +6 handicap since 2013
Dream: reach the Nr. 1 spot of the O.W.G.R.
Michel Vanmeerbeek, Jérôme Theunis, Mike Small
Excel Sports Management, Vincent Borremans
Caddy: Michael Burrow
To sort rows by a particular column, click the column's header
|20-08-20||23-08-2020||ISPS Handa Wales Open||The Celtic Manor Resort – City of Newport – Wales|
|6-08-20||9-08-2020||English Championship||Rounds: 64 72 66 74 ⦿ To Par: -8 ⦿ Pos.: 56T||Marriott Hanbury Manor Hotel & CC – Ware, Hertfordshire – England|
|30-07-20||2-08-2020||Hero Open||Rounds: 67 67 71 66 ⦿ To Par: -17 ⦿ Pos.: 2||Marriott Forest of Arden – Birmingham – England|
|22-07-20||25-07-2020||Betfred British Masters hosted by Lee Westwood||Rounds: 70 73 ⦿ To Par: +1 ⦿ Pos.: 82T – Missed Cut||Close House Hotel & GC – Newcastle-upon-Tyne – England|
|9-07-20||12-07-2020||Austrian Open||Rounds: 68 71 73 68 ⦿ To Par: -8 ⦿ Pos.: 8T||Diamond CC – Atzenbrugg – Austria|
|5-03-20||8-03-2020||Commercial Bank Qatar Masters||Rounds: 72 66 66 72 ⦿ To Par: -8 ⦿ Pos.: 17T||Education City GC – Doha – Qatar|
|27-02-20||1-03-2020||Oman Open||Rounds: 71 72 71 70 ⦿ To Par: -4 ⦿ Pos.: 36T||Al Mouj Golf – Muscat – Oman|
|30-01-20||2-02-2020||Saudi International Powered by SBIA||Rounds: 73 66 65 69 ⦿ To Par: -7 ⦿ Pos.: 6T||Royal Greens G&CC – King Abdullah Economic City – Saudi Arabia|
|23-01-20||26-01-2020||Omega Dubai Desert Classic||Rounds: 73 72 72 72 ⦿ To Par: +1 ⦿ Pos.: 32T||Emirates GC – Dubai – UAE|
|16-01-20||19-01-2020||Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA||Rounds: 69 70 67 78 ⦿ To Par: -4 ⦿ Pos.: 55T||Abu Dhabi GC – Abu Dhabi – UAE|
|9-01-20||12-01-2020||South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg||Rounds: 68 68 74 66 ⦿ To Par: -8 ⦿ Pos.: 28T||Firethorn & Bushwillow – Johannesburg – South Africa|
|19-12-19||22-12-2019||Thailand Masters||Rounds: 63 68 66 69 ⦿ To Par: -18 ⦿ Pos.: 2T||Phoenix Gold G&CC – Pattaya – Thailand|
|5-12-19||8-12-2019||Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open||Rounds: 67 66 67 70 ⦿ To Par: -18 ⦿ Pos.: 4T||Heritage GC – Heritage Bel Ombre – Mauritius|
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