02 Feb 2023 | Professional golf |

Aussies On Tour - Thompson aims to follow Smith pattern

by Australian Golf Media

Jack Thompson Super 6 image
Jack Thompson is fired up for an Asian Tour start this week.

By Tony Webeck

South Australian Jack Thompson is seeking to emulate Cam Smith’s pathway by using a stroke of good fortune to play his way onto the world stage.

The medalist at Final Stage of Asian Tour Qualifying School two weeks ago, Thompson was only notified of his place in the field for this week’s PIF Saudi International last Wednesday.

He is now becoming accustomed to seeing 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel pass by in the clubhouse at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club and the prospect of a dream weekend pairing with either Dustin Johnson or Brooks Koepka.

That Thompson has an Asian Tour card at all is owed in part to a moment at Q School that could prove to be life-changing.

Managing a wrist injury he suffered while in contention at the Victorian PGA in November, Thompson faced the prospect of an early exit despite a closing round of three-under 69 at First Stage at Blue Canyon Country Club in Phuket.

Yet when all hope seemed lost, fate intervened.

“It literally got to the last group and I needed (Japan’s Genki Okada) to double (bogey) the last,” Thompson recalled.

“I wasn’t even really looking at my phone because I thought I didn’t have a chance.

“I had three-under in the last round and he had five-over, so I beat him on a countback, which is a weird thing to happen.

“After it happened I thought, This could be a big turning point.”

It also reminded Thompson of a presentation given by Golf Australia High Performance Director Tony Meyer midway through last year.

Meyer presented to the Golf Australia Rookie Squad – of which Thompson is a member – the pathway Smith took to becoming a major champion, including his own slice of good fortune.

After missing his tee time at the Web.com Tour Q School at the end of 2013, Smith spent 2014 playing the Asian Tour.

That opened the door for Smith to earn a late admission into the PGA TOUR co-sanctioned CIMB Classic in Malaysia in November 2014, where he finished tied for fifth.

Seven months later, an eagle at the 72nd hole sealed a top-five finish at the US Open at Chambers Bay to earn special temporary membership of the PGA TOUR.

It was a timely reminder for Thompson to take his opportunity when it was presented.

“He did a PowerPoint in the middle of last year on Cam's trajectory and what happened to him and his story,” said Thompson, the 2021 Gippsland Super 6 champion.

“There was a little bit in there where he got into the CIMB Classic because someone hadn’t played enough events or something and he was first reserve.

“He got in and played well. Then he qualified for the US Open and played well there and the money from CIMB carried into him getting his PGA TOUR card.

“That stuck with me for a while.

“It was in the back of my mind when I got through (First Stage). This could be one of those moments. This could make all the difference. This could be the turning point for me.”

Soon to celebrate his 25th birthday, Thompson is adjusting as quickly as he can to teeing it up against players he has only ever seen before on TV. A field boasting 13 fellow Aussies provides some sense of normalcy in a whirlwind elevation into what is being called the strongest field ever assembled for an Asian Tour event.

“This is the biggest event that I’ve played as a pro, seeing some of those guys who have won multiple majors and stuff,” said Thompson, who will have coach Adrian Wickstein on the bag this week.

“When they’re on TV they get portrayed as if they are some sort of superstar or extra-terrestrial but they’re literally just humans. They’re just normal people that happen to be good at golf.

“It’s obviously cool but I think I can block that out. The competitive person that I am, I think it’s cool but I’m here to win and to play.

“For me, now is the time to soak it in but to keep my eyes forward. Any time you’re complacent and happy, it’s the worst mentality to be in golf. You just can’t be complacent with golf, or with anything really. Hopefully we keep going on this path that we’re going on.”

The Saudi International serves as Smith’s first event for 2023, the 2022 Open champion paired with American superstars Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson for the opening two rounds.

Geoff Ogilvy will go from Rosebud Country Club to Pebble Beach Golf Links, one of five Aussies who will contest the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in California.

The Ladies European Tour season kicks off in Kenya with Aussie pair Whitney Hillier and Gabi Ruffels and New Zealand’s Momoka Kobori in action and Curtis Luck, Brett Drewitt and Rhein Gibson will tee it up at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Panama Championship. Round 1 tee times AEDT

Asian Tour PIF Saudi International Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, Saudi Arabia 3.15pm Todd Sinnott, Kevin Yuan, Oliver Fisher 3.55pm Matt Jones, Hiroshi Iwata, Gaganjeet Bhullar 4.05pm Travis Smyth, Berry Henson, Laurie Canter 4.05pm* Lucas Herbert, Louis Oosthuizen, Ratchanon Chantananuwat 4.35pm Zach Murray, Yikeun Chang, Suradit Yongcharoenchai 7.45pm* Jack Thompson, Taehee Lee, Rattanon Wannasrichan 7.55pm* Andrew Dodt, Hideto Tanihara, Yeongsu Kim 8.05pm* Wade Ormsby, Steve Lewton, Richard T. Lee 8.15pm Cameron Smith, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson 8.15pm* Scott Hend, Pat Perez, Hudson Swafford 8.25pm* Marc Leishman, Peter Uihlein, Bernd Wiesberger 9.05pm Jediah Morgan, Tom Lewis, Siddikur Rahman 9.15pm* Louis Dobbelaar, Stefano Mazzoli, Kyongjun Moon Defending champion: Harold Varner Past Aussie winners: Nil TV schedule: Live 7pm-9pm, 10.30pm-1.30am Thursday, Friday; Live 8.30pm-12am Saturday, Sunday on Fox Sports 503. DP World Tour

Ras Al Khaimah Championship Al Hamra GC, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE 3pm* Ryan Fox (NZ), Victor Perez, Nicolai Hojgaard 3.30pm Daniel Hillier (NZ), Julien Guerrier, Todd Clements Defending champion: Nicolai Hojgaard Past Aussie winners: Nil TV schedule: Live from 7.30pm Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday on Fox Sports +. PGA TOUR

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, California 9.36am (PB) Geoff Ogilvy, Philip Knowles

9.58am (Spyglass) Harrison Endycott, Garret Reband

8.30am (Monterey) Cameron Percy, Adam Schenk

9.25am (Monterey) Aaron Baddeley, Rory Sabbatini

10.09am (Monterey) Greg Chalmers, Robert Garrigus

Defending champion: Tom Hoge Past Aussie winners: Bruce Crampton (1965), Brett Ogle (1993) TV schedule: 3am-10am Friday, Saturday; Live 5am-11am Sunday, Monday on Fox Sports 503. Korn Ferry Tour The Panama Championship Club de Golf de Panama, Panama City, Panama 10.40pm* Curtis Luck, Mark Anderson, Ryan McCormick 11.32pm Brett Drewitt, Akshay Bhatia, Kyle Jones 3.55am* Rhein Gibson, Brandon Crick, Max Greyserman Defending champion: Carson Young Past Aussie winners: Mathew Goggin (2011, 2015) Ladies European Tour Magical Kenya Ladies Open Vipingo Ridge, Kenya 4.44pm* Whitney Hillier, Jana Melichova, Anais Meyssonnier 5.06pm Momoka Kobori (NZ), Patricia Isabel Schmidt, Kylie Henry 8.58pm Gabriela Ruffels, Laura Beveridge, Sara Kouskova Defending champion: Esther Henseleit Past Aussie winners: Nil TV schedule: Live 1.30am-2.30am Friday on Fox Sports 503; Live 11.30pm-2.30am Friday, Saturday on Fox Sports 505; Live from 10pm Sunday on Fox Sports 505.

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