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!
And so my fourth official season on the European Tour begins this week at the South African Open! It honestly feels like there is a lot to be excited about this year. Not only with the Olympics and Ryder Cup featuring on the 2020 schedule but it’s also one of my biggest targets to play in at least one Major Championship this season and I am feeling in a stronger position now than ever to try and reach that goal.
You might have seen that after finishing 2nd at the Thailand Masters last month, I occupied my highest ever World Ranking position at 118. In hindsight, I think it was a really good decision to play in that Asian Tour event since it was another great confidence boost…but it also prevented my game from getting rusty over the winter. Needless to say, I am really hoping to start this season in the same strong way I closed out 2019 and keep climbing that OWGR!
Onto things here in Johannesburg and this tournament is actually an amalgamation of the previous Joburg Open as well as the regular SA event which results in two significant differences from its usual format. First the field size is 240 men (as opposed to a regular 132 or 156 man field!). Secondly, and as a consequence of this, we will split play on Thursday & Friday across two different courses at Randpark GC - the Firethorn and Bushwillow Courses.
There will then be a normal cut with only 65 competitors and ties playing the Firethorn course again at the weekend.
Although Bushwillow plays significantly shorter than Firethorn, both courses have similar parkland characteristics with tree lined fairways and water hazards presented to us throughout. The rough isn’t too punishing though which means pretty favourable conditions for scoring and hopefully plenty of birdie chances throughout!
The biggest threat for us this week will be the weather. Although I know I shouldn’t complain being in the heat while everyone back home is freezing cold (!)…we have rain and scattered thunderstorms predicted across all four days which means high potential for rain delays during our stay here in Joburg. Still plenty of sun and only low level winds forecasted so fingers crossed we get lucky!
Last but not least, it is worth mentioning that the tournament this week is also one of The Open Qualifying events which means that there are 3 spots available into the Major Championship at Royal St Georges for any players who are not already exempt & finish inside the Top 10 here in Johannesburg! A definite target for me this week!
Off at 12.10pm tomorrow for the first round alongside Eddie Pepperell and home favourite Charl Schwartzel. After some great experiences at Nedbank already, I know I can look forward to some more fun this week in front of the South African crowds!
Let's get this season started!
A little later in the week than normal for this Blog Post but wanted to keep you all updated as many of you might have seen I am playing over on the Asian Tour this week! I was fortunate enough to have received an invitation from Thongchai Jaidee to play in this edition of the 2019 Thailand Masters and it's fair to say I've been having an absolutely brilliant time since I got here!
I really wanted to play in this event because I thought it was a great way to keep my game in shape throughout the winter and before the next season starts on European Tour in January. I have also heard so many interesting things about Thailand so thought it would be a good spot for a little end of year holiday and Thongchai and his entire family have been taking such good care of us throughout the week that its been even more fun than I was expecting!
One little downside is that the jet lag has been a bit of a battle this week since we are a solid six hours ahead of Belgian time...and combined with the hot heat out here, that can be a little tricky to balance. But as a result, we just decided to take things really easy and have spent a lot of downtime relaxing at the hotel resort instead!
Furthermore, the event this week is being played at the Phoenix Gold Golf Course in Pattaya which is approximately 1 hour 30 minutes outside of Bangkok. Its a really incredible place with some equally stunning views as you look around. The tournament follows the regular usual Thursday - Sunday format which means that today is the final day of play before heading home for Christmas! I am currently sitting in second position (-16 total) and will be going out this morning alongside Jazz Janewattananond and Phachara Khongwatmai. As a matter of fact I have played with both of the guys earlier this week so we already have great vibes going and am really looking forward to one last push to climb that leaderboard!
Last but not least, the weather has been nothing but fantastic the entire time we have been here. Other than a little play delay yesterday due to threat of thunderstorms, we have had clear skies and very warm temperatures every day! As you can imagine, it's always that little bit tougher to put a round together in hot and humid conditions since its extra work trying to conserve energy and keep your body cool. But so far so good, and I'm definitely enjoying the last hours of heat before returning back to freezing cold Brussels!
Just want to say a quick last thank you to Thongchai and his family as well as Fonzi and Brian who have been heavily involved in organising everything for us this week and making it such an enjoyable experience so far!
Off at 11.10am local time (5.10am Belgian time!) this morning. Let's get this thing going!
What a place we are in this week! It's my first ever visit to the island of Mauritius so I decided to travel a little earlier than normal over for the event alongside my best friend Cedric who, as mentioned previously, will be taking the place of Ryan as caddy this week!
Luckily for us, it turns out that arriving early was definitely a smart decision! We have made the most of every moment of the past few days by enjoying all the facilities that Heritage Resort has to offer! That predominantly includes a pattern of kite surfing, snorkelling, tennis, swimming, eating and sleeping! Furthermore, both Nico and Pieters are playing in the tournament this week as well so its been a really great way for us all to unwind together after a long 2019 season (and hopefully all have a great start to the 2020 season too!).
To avoid talking too much about the luxury of this place I will quickly move onto giving you some insight into the Golf Course instead! As a matter of fact, the tournament has been hosted at this venue twice before. Heritage Golf Course is situation on the Southern part of the island and features plenty of elevation change given its location so close to the mountains. Various lakes and streams run throughout the course which means that any unplanned shots will likely be severely punished! The tropical trees are sparse in number so not posing too much of a threat, but again, there is high grass and jungle to consider if you make any mistakes off the tee. The fairways are wide which will lend a natural advantage to long hitters and the greens are pretty large too.
The biggest threat to us this week will be the weather. Although we have been forecasted nothing but sunny/cloudy warm skies with little wind or rain...Mauritius is a microclimate and since we are playing very close to the shoreline, we will be exposed to any volatile weather conditions if anything unpredictable was to happen!
I have tried not to practice too intensely this week since I am still trying to wind down from the end of last season...but Tuesday's Pro Am was really useful practice and one thing I am sure of is that a low score will definitely win here this week! So fingers crossed for a hot putter over the next few days!
Off at 7.30am tomorrow morning (4.30am Belgian time!) and fair to say that Cedric is officially looking forward to the Challenge ahead of him!!
Further updates to follow....
And so my third official season on the European Tour has come to an end! I was a little disappointed not to have had a stronger Sunday on the Golf Course in Dubai but still, overall, really glad to have brought this year to a close with solid performances in those last Final Series events. There have been a lot of great things to reflect on this season...but there is undoubtedly room for improvement too. In honesty, I feel like I have been playing some of my best ever golf during the second half of this year so I'm already excited to see what next year brings!
In contemplation, it's fair to say that there have been some highs and lows throughout this season...but if I had to pick just one highlight then I think it has to be the final day of this year's Nedbank Championship! I've been spending a bit of time recently reading a book called Anti-Fragility by Nassim Nicolas Taleb (which I would thoroughly recommend to you all!). There are some really great principles in it about mental strength and dealing with adversity which have proved very useful to me, especially in the past few weeks. We all have our faults and I'll admit that I often find it hard to stay patient when I make mistakes on the course. But Sunday in South Africa will forever be a significant day for me now. In moments of huge pressure I managed not to let those mistakes defeat me, but instead, allowed the confidence in my own skills to take control. I will always be able to look back on that day and take strength from that progression.
I want to take this opportunity now to thank everybody personally for their support during this season. First and foremost to my team and coaches. To Ryan, my caddy, for always maintaining such a meticulous attitude towards his job (as well as keeping me calm out there!). To Jerome, for all his incredible advice and endless supply of espressos! To Fabien, my strength trainer, for constantly keeping me in check and being such good company on the road. As well as to Michel and Richard Vanmeerbeck, my coaches back in Brussels, who continue to have an immeasurable impact on my development. Thanks also to Excel Sports Management who offer consistent guidance on my career and work hard to make everything in my life run so smoothly.
Last but not least, thank you to every single one of my friends and family who have turned up at a tournament this year or just supported me behind a TV screen or online leaderboard! I truly appreciate the company out on Tour but you also all give me a reason to look forward to coming home.
Moving onto my sponsors and there have been some really enjoyable times getting together with everyone this year! Bank Delen hosted their annual (and perfectly organised) Corporate Days which Pieters and I have a lot of fun competing in! As usual, Callaway have been on hand with unlimited service throughout the season and I'm really grateful for all their assistance. I also thoroughly enjoy every opportunity I get to spend time with the team at Rolex out on Tour - especially visiting the incredible hospitality they host at tournaments!
Thanks to everyone at GFore for providing me with another year's worth of shoes and gloves which I honestly think might receive more positive comments from fans than my actual golf swing! You might also have noticed that I've been completely spoilt all year round by Hugo Boss with a brilliant supply of clothing to keep me looking and feeling great on the Golf Course too. Thank you to Patrick and the whole team for their generosity with this and, more importantly, being such good fun to be around too! Furthermore, it has been another great year with Alexis and everyone at Mannes as well. The support, both professionally and personally, is always appreciated and I look forward to working with you for many years to come!
And so its time to move onto 2020 and the schedule is looking pretty exciting already! Perhaps most significantly, we will all have the chance to represent our countries at both the Olympics and Ryder Cup again! Given those poignant memories from last year's World Cup Belgian victory, I can honestly say that the sense of National Pride was a feeling like no other, and to be able to play in Tokyo and Whistling Straights next year are dreams that I very much hope to fulfil!
I'll be spending a few days at home now before heading over to Mauritius at the weekend for my first event of the new season! If you look very closely on television next week, you might even notice that Ryan is taking a break and passing the bag onto one of my best friends Cedric to caddy during the tournament! Playing Mauritius will be a great opportunity to get some points on the board early, but also in such a luxurious setting, I think it will be a good time to relax and have a bit of fun too!
With all that said, I just want to finish up by saying congratulations again to Pieters and Nico for their hard earned victories in Prague and Paris this year. They are great friends and role models of mine but 2020 is now fast approaching...and I think it might finally be the time to get my own hands on a trophy!
Well, as you can imagine, it felt pretty great to wrap up the week in South Africa with a 3rd place finish and move significantly up to 41st place on the Race to Dubai Rankings! As a result of this I also had to do a last minute change to my travel plans and book a flight to Dubai in order to compete in this year's DP World Tour Championship!
For those of you who managed to watch some of the tournament on television last week, hopefully you will have noticed that my game is truly in great shape right now! I can honestly admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of being in contention at such an important event again too. My scoring on Sunday in such tense conditions started off a little shaky and I was disappointed not to have made a few of those small putts that day after feeling so confident on the greens all week. However, on the other hand, some of the birdies I made out there (on 2 and 14 most importantly!) were pivotal character testing moments for me that I will continue to take great strength from moving forward. Furthermore, I also had the privilege of playing with Louis Oosthuizen on Friday, Saturday and Sunday last week. I always enjoy walking the fairways with experienced professionals, but above and beyond this, Louis was a genuine pleasure to play with and I truly feel I have a lot to learn from the way he composes himself in critical moments on the golf course.
I think this is also a good opportunity for me to say thank you to all the people at home who were watching and rooting for me last week. I know it's technically just me and Ryan standing on the tee each day we play, but the sense of support I feel from my team as well as family and friends back home is overwhelming sometimes and I really want to express my gratitude to you all for your constant words of encouragement.
Moving onwards and after a few last minute logistic changes, we have now arrived in Dubai for the final tournament of the season and you will struggle to find a player on the European Tour who isn't a big fan of Jumeriah Golf Estates! The field has been reduced from its normal size of 60 to 50 players competing in this event which means that the points on offer have considerably increased as well. The Earth Course is in its usual incredible condition, presenting us with long wide fairways and fast undulating greens. There are also numerous bunker and water hazards to avoid...rather than any chance of finding trouble in the trees.
I have read that the conditions back in Europe are pretty frosty right now so I know I should not complain but....the weather is actually not the best here in Dubai right now either! Today we are expecting a solid six hours of thunderstorms and rain which makes practice a little difficult! We should be alright for the rest of the tournament days though with predictable sunshine being forecasted for the rest of the week!
Needless to say that I am very much looking forward to getting started tomorrow already! Unfortunately we are a team member down since it wasn't possible for my strength coach Fabien to join us at such late notice...but the rest of party are out in full force and ready for one last push up those rankings in order to hopefully finish higher than last year's 31st position on the Final Rankings!
Off at 9.20am tomorrow morning playing with Guido Migliozzi. Let's get this thing going!!
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: Ryan McGuigan
To sort rows by a particular column, click the column's header
|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|
|19-12-19||22-12-2019||Thailand Masters||Rounds: 63 68 66 69 ⦿ To Par: -18 ⦿ Pos.: 2T||Phoenix Gold G&CC – Pattaya – Thailand|
|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|
|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|
|23-01-20||26-01-2020||Omega Dubai Desert Classic||Rounds: 73 72 72 72 ⦿ To Par: +1 ⦿ Pos.: 32T||Emirates GC – Dubai – UAE|
|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|
|27-02-20||1-03-2020||Oman Open||Rounds: 71 72 71 70 ⦿ To Par: -4 ⦿ Pos.: 36T||Al Mouj Golf – Muscat – Oman|
|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|
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