|After the excitement of The Masters at Augusta last week, golf fans on the Isle of Man have something else to look forward to over the next few days as local star Tom Gandy tees it up for a belated start to his season. |
The plan for 2021 is very much based around a full season of competition on the Challenge Tour, with a view to earning the Top 15 Order of Merit finish which brings with it full playing privileges for the 2022 European Tour.
However, with the first Challenge Tour event scheduled for Limpopo on the 22nd of April, the Manxman’s excellent performance at Qualifying School – or ‘Q School’, as it is better known – in 2019 has earned him a start in the Austrian Open this week in what will be his 9th full
|European Tour start. |
Hosted by the Diamond Golf Club, near Vienna, the event has a prize fund of €1M and offers the opportunity for the man from Rowany to pit himself against some of the sport’s top names, headed by former Ryder Cup star and major winner Martin Kaymer.
Tom enters the 2021 Season with confidence that he can compete at the very top level, having made it through to the final round in 3 of his last 5 European Tour events.
While his lack of recent competition sees him more hopeful than confident for his first start of the year, there is a clear hint of optimism as he relishes the chance to compete again.“I’m looking forward to getting back under the gun, so to speak, and seeing where I’m at. Expectations are fairly low as I find my way back in but sometimes that can be a really helpful thing so let’s see how we go!”
His confidence is also boosted by the faith shown by his major equipment sponsor, Mizuno, who have expanded last year’s contract from clubs only to now include clothing, as well as committing to a two year deal. In addition, Tom enjoys the support of a number of local businesses and individuals on the Isle of Man, many of whom have supported him since the start of his professional journey.
Despite missing the competitive challenge, Tom has thoroughly enjoyed spending the off-season back home on the Island, despite the trials of the last few months.
|“I’m really excited to get back out on Tour and getting the opportunity to compete again. It’s been a long off-season, which I wasn’t really expecting, but I feel like, with the help of my team of coaches, I’ve been able to make it a very positive period of time.”“It’s great to be able to get back to doing what I love, although it feels especially strange after such a long period at home.”|
Following the rather stilted season in 2020, which was characterised by very localised groups of events, one change Tom will certainly notice this year is the travelling. After the slow start to the year, the events now start to come thick and fast with a three event ‘swing’ in South Africa opening the Challenge Tour season immediately after Austria.
This is followed by an immediate return to Europe for back-to-back events in Sweden in mid-May. The remainder of the season will see him compete across at least 3 continents as he carries the Manx flag to some new destinations, including Finland, Switzerland and China.
For anyone looking to follow Tom this week, all four days of the event are being covered on Sky Sports Golf, with coverage starting at 1230 daily. You can also follow his progress on the European Tour App. Tom tees off at 0640 UK time on Thursday and 1130 UK time on Friday.