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!!
Firstly want to thank the promoters for an incredibly organised tournament in Turkey last week. Obviously disappointed with my play over the weekend since I was in a good position after the first two days...but still, it’s hard not to walk away from an event like that and feel too negative because it was a real pleasure to participate in and I keep accumulating some amazing memories!
Onto this week and we have travelled all the way over to South Africa for the next instalment of the Final Series - The Nedbank Golf Challenge. To be honest, I am a big fan of every event hosted in South Africa …but there is an extra special vibe about Sun City and I am really enjoying being back here!
Day one of the tournament is already under our belts and it definitely constitutes a solid start! Really happy with that little first round 66 in some testing conditions with the breeze continuing to pick up and drop throughout the day. The course is by no means a walk in the park this week and furthermore, the heat is consistently intense out here so hydration and recovery are key factors we have to keep in mind.
Tee times have officially been released for tomorrow so I’ll be off the 1st tee at 10.50am alongside Guido Migliozzi & home favourite Louis Oosthuizen! Now, time for some rest before the battle continues in the morning! Further updates to follow!
Last but not least, some of you might remember but this is the course that is engulfed within Pilanesberg National Park so whilst concentrating on playing, you also need to keep your eyes peeled for some pretty dangerous animals roaming around! As a matter of fact, on Pro Am Day a Black Mamba was seen slithering its way across one of the fairways!
Arrived safely in Antalya for the first event of this year's Final Series and although it is a different course to last time, it's undoubtedly another great venue for us to be playing at! To establish my current situation moving into the end of this season - at the moment I am lying 66th on the Race to Dubai. It's the Top 70 available players who compete here in Turkey, Top 60 next week in South Africa and finally the Top 50 who are eligible to play in Dubai. I am already safely confirmed to play in the tournament next week but obviously have some more work to do in order to secure my position at this year's Final Event...so fingers crossed for some good results these next two weeks and I should give myself a good chance to be there amongst the Dubai action!
The Maxx Royal Montgomerie is another amazing Resort Course on the Antalya Coast. Spectacular and consistent pine trees are a constant feature throughout the venue and there is also water running across nearly half the holes. The fairways here are pretty generous which generally means that most of the pressure will be on producing a good shot into the green to give yourself some opportunities. Furthermore there are 5 par 5's as well as a drivable par 4 on this course so there's no doubt about it...you need to be making plenty of birdies if you want to chase the win!
It might not come as a surprise that the weather forecast is looking fantastic for us here across the entire week. As a matter of fact we should be enjoying warm temperatures each day with only light breezes forecast and no rain showers either!
In hindsight I'm confident it was a good decision now to take a few weeks off before entering into this run of Final Series events. I had plenty of rest at home and feel thoroughly relaxed now and ready to get back into action! Off at 10.25am this morning and already eager to get going!
Keep tuned as more updates to follow...!
Obviously really happy to have secured my own Top 10 finish in France but the glory rightly goes to my friend Nicolas Colsaerts this week for an incredible performance in Paris!
To pull off a victory under the intense conditions and pressure he did today perfectly illustrates the strength of both his game and character and is the same reason I will continue look up to him for many years to come!
So sending a huge Congrats to the Dude and his full team for the win! To Vincent, Brian, Rachel, Jackson and all the family! Time for me to take a little break now before heading into the Final Series events. Thanks to everyone for your continued support and speak to you all soon!
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||Emirates GC – Dubai – UAE|
|30-01-20||2-02-2020||Saudi International Powered by SBIA||Royal Greens G&CC – King Abdullah Economic City – Saudi Arabia|
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