Tour Championships – Desert Springs Golf Club and Report, Oct 24-26 2018
An incredible opening round which included 5 birdies and an eagle, was not enough to provide the fairytale ending to the EuroPro season for Isle of Man pro Tom Gandy. Tom needed victory to lift himself into the Order of Merit Top 5 and thus qualify for promotion to the Challenge Tour for the 2019 season. However, Tom’s scoring and ball-striking was consistent enough to deliver another strong performance and saw him end the season with a big smile in the Spanish sunshine.
Rounds of 71, 71 and 69 saw him finish on a total of 5 under par and a tie for 18th place in the end of year shoot-out involving the Top 60 players on the EuroPro Tour. Qualifying for the event in his rookie season is an achievement in itself and already means that Tom has pre-qualified for the Tour again next year. Ending the year with another Top 20 finish serves to highlight his potential for the future and will ensure that he returns to the Island for the winter satisfied with his toils over the season and really looking forward to a well-earned break from traveling and a few months of practice before it’s time to go again next year.
The story of Tom’s season has been an exciting one to follow. It started with a trip to Portugal to play in a number of winter events there. Although a relatively low-key start to the year, this saw him win his first prize money as a professional and the introduction to a much higher standard of competition in the professional ranks was an excellent learning experience and provided a solid grounding from which to attack the EuroPro season . An excellent EuroPro qualifying performance, looking at one stage like he would win the event, saw him comfortably cement his place on the Tour and establish himself as a potential star of the future. Prior to the first event of the season proper, EuroPro Chief Exec Dan Godding said:
“Tom is a really exciting prospect and will be a great asset to the EuroPro Tour this year. His amateur record is excellent and he is clearly capable of challenging at the top of the leaderboards – even winning events – in his first season. If he plays to his potential, he should be a European Tour member in the future.”
It did take Tom a few events to find his feet over the season, missing the cut in his first two events as he got used to the extra punishing travel regime living on the island brings which involved the SteamPacket ferry, and then a lengthy drive to and from each tournament. However, as he grew more accustomed to the journeys – and increased in confidence – his results improved and he started to become a regular feature on the 3rd and final day of the events; one of the 50 golfers to make the first tee on the Friday, out of 150 players who started out each Wednesday.
In fact, after the first two events, he only finished outside of the Top 32 on 3 occasions for the rest of the year, a level of consistency that few matched on the Tour. His highest finish was at the Pentahotels Championship, held at Caversham Heath Golf Club near Reading at the end of July where he built on his success in leading his Pro-Am team to victory by shooting a final round 68 to climb the last-day leaderboard and finish in a Tie for 6th place.
His T18 finish in the Desert Springs event was his 6th Top 25 result of the season. His attempt to qualify for the British Open at Carnoustie in July saw him fall short by a single shot. However, such a close shave only served to whet his appetite for another attempt in 2019. The same can be said for his attempt to gain his full European Tour Card via Qualifying – or ‘Q’ – School. Falling at the first hurdle in his 2018 attempt was perhaps Tom’s biggest disappointment of the season but, like many other aspects of the season, the experience he has gained will make him more competitive next time around.
From the support side, Tom’s first season has been a success. Working with a number of supporters, he has managed to fund all of his travel, entry fees, and living expenses, enabling him to concentrate on his golf for the duration of the EuroPro Tour. Tom started the season as the face of KJUS Golf for this year, a Swiss based luxury golf and ski wear producer, modeling their 2018 range of golfwear on their website.
This relationship has continued over the season, with Tom continuing to wear their clothing throughout the year. He has received some generous contributions from individual benefactors, and has again been the recipient of support from Tower Insurance through the Isle of Man SportAid scheme. Just across the road from the Tower Insurance offices in Douglas is the ferry terminal and the home of the SteamPacket company. SteamPacket have also been supported Tom throughout the year, watching him carry their company logo across the water to the mainland, as well as on his trips to Ireland and to Spain.
Sure telecoms have also contributed to the cause, supporting Tom for the last few events of the year and welcoming Tom as an ambassador in their Sport for Schools programme. He has also worked closely with some smaller businesses on the Island, including Raybon, who make specialist milled putters to order, Isle of Man Golfing Holidays, Anthony Collins Flooring Rich Energy, Kreston IOM. As a proud Manx, Tom is delighted to be associated with Isle of Man companies – big and small – and remains a proud member of his boyhood club, Rowany Golf Club.
Tom has thoroughly enjoyed his first full year as a tournament professional. Although he missed out on his dream of winning the Race to Desert Springs event in Andalucía, and with it the chance to jump up the rankings into the Top 5 and earn a Challenge Tour card for 2019, he is philosophical about the year:
“I was really buoyed by the support I received throughout the year, especially in Spain. Whether online, on the phone, or people actually coming out to watch me play, it was incredible to think that the guy from the little old Isle of Man actually managed to draw a crowd in the south of Spain.
I’d like to thank everyone who supported me this year, particularly those who helped me financially through sponsorship, my girlfriend Charlotte for her support and caddying, and my mum for letting me borrow her car and coming out to Spain to support me.
It’s been a great year.”
Tom’s plan for 2019 is simple – to build on the successes of 2018 and increase his opportunities at the top of the leaderboards over the course of the EuroPro Tour. He is also hopeful that his strong rookie year may see him earn some invitations to play further afield – ideally on some of the Challenge Tour events. He will look to go one better and qualify for the British Open at Royal Portrush Golf Club on the north coast of Northern Ireland, and to try to qualify for the full European Tour via ‘Q’ School.
The EuroPro Tour is likely to once again offer the £250 000 bonus for anyone able to win 4 events; if Tom can manage an early victory that will make that a tempting – and life-changing – target. However, the main target is one of the Top 5 places on the EuroPro Order of Merit, allowing him to make the transition from trips to the UK on the EuroPro Tour, to carrying the Manx flag across multiple continents on the Challenge Tour in 2020. Hopefully everyone on the Island will enjoy following his progress.