We caught Thomas between Tokyo and Los Angeles, where he’s flying to, to play a tournament on the PGA Tour in Reno.
You’d expect the guy to be in a slump after his missed opportunity at the Olympics, but nothing could be further from the truth.
TP: The Olympics, it remains an incredible experience. The atmosphere, the whole event, you don’t experience that very often in your life. You know, even my caddie, Adam Marrow, an Englishmen, was cheering for Belgium. That’s how contagious it is. We don’t get paid, there’s no prize money from which he gets his share, and yet he was so grateful to be there.
It’s so special.
WAMP: You started off strong, too.
TP: Yes, a surprise for me as well. I was still sick in bed on Wednesday. Afraid I had covid or something. My whole body felt like spaghetti, so I thought, this is not going to happen. The worst feeling, being sick at a tournament where you have been looking forward to for so long. But everything worked out. Friday morning, I got the backlash of that, and then I hit a ball that was stuck in a tree twice. How many times have you hit a ball into a tree that didn’t come out?
WAMP: Once. In a palm.
TP: Right. Me also once. I was sixteen at the time. I remember very well where and how. And now twice in a row. And during the Olympics.
WAMP: I guess the criticism was not mild for you?
TP: It wasn’t too bad. People who know something about golf know that you can’t force anything. If it goes wrong, it goes wrong. Of course, among all the positive encouragement on social media, there’s always some negative person who’s going to be rude about it. But never someone whose opinion really counts. The most important thing is that I was able to tee off on Sunday with the feeling that a medal was still within reach. If you have to tee off on Sunday with fifteen strokes behind, that is a whole different story. This was a course where you could play eight, nine under par. The silver medalist, Sabatini, was one stroke behind me on Sunday morning. That’s the great thing about golf. Outsiders don’t understand that. Silver for N°204 in the world ranking, bronze for N°208. So, it’s possible. It’s not because you’re ranked high that you win, as in many other sports.
(We are interrupted by an announcement in the background.)
That’s for me. I have to board.
WAMP: No time to rest. Important tournament in Nevada?
TP: In the USA every tournament is important to me, if I want to get enough points to regain my PGA card.
WAMP: Then we wish you good luck Thomas, and hopefully no ball-eating trees along the way.
TP: Thanks, and have fun at the Club Knockout in Belgium.