ASIAN GOLF INDUSTRY FEDERATION

Sloman in the Fast Lane at Laguna Golf Phuket

Tom Sloman posted an emphatic victory at Laguna Golf Phuket. Picture by Asian Tour.

Phuket, Thailand: Tom Sloman never doubted he had the game to compete at the highest level. But he didn’t foresee a potential Asian Tour detour on his pathway to fame and fortune.

That all changed when the 25-year-old Englishman ran away with the US$75,000 Laguna Phuket Challenge, the first of four Beautiful Thailand Swing (BTS) events jointly co-sanctioned by the Asian Development Tour (ADT) and MENA Tour.

The US$13,125 cheque the former Walker Cupper posed with in photographs afterwards mightn’t force his accountant to undertake a sudden audit but the opportunities now on the horizon courtesy of his five-stroke victory over Thai Poosit Supupramai are potentially life-changing.

Sloman has leapt from seventh to the summit of the MENA Tour’s 2020+ Journey to Jordan Order of Merit (OOM) standings as a result of his brilliant 54-hole performance at Laguna Golf Phuket and will earn himself an invite to one of the Asian Tour’s new US$1.5 million+ International Series events if he can stay there come the completion of the BTS.

Two further ADT starts and a free pass to the final stage of Asian Tour Q-School for next season – the reward for those finishing in the top-10 of the final standings – almost now seem a lock, too.

It means the big-hitting Englishman might soon be rethinking his loosely plotted path to golf’s loftiest stages.

“My goal is to get to the PGA Tour one day and hopefully win Majors. That’s a fairly big goal, but I believe I have the game for it if all goes well,” said Sloman, who signed for rounds of 63-65-63 and a 19-under winning total.

Reminded of the opportunities now presented via the MENA Tour’s strategic partnership with the Asian Tour, Sloman recalibrated his thoughts.  

He said: “It’s a massive opportunity now, isn’t it? Winning the MENA Tour would be fantastic. To get into final stage of Q-School, to get into two more of these [ADT events after the BTS] and the Asian Tour International Series … it’s all about trying to get as many opportunities as possible and seeing what happens at the end of year.

“Anything to do with the Asian Tour is obviously pretty big now.”

So, too, was Sloman’s win, courtesy of 54 holes where he barely faulted.

He started Thursday’s final round with a two-stroke advantage over Poosit and Jesper Alm and all but played all of his pursers out of contention with five birdies in his first seven holes.

There were further gains on 11 and 12 but it was a lengthy par putt on the 13th that sealed the deal. There was a minor irritation when he made a three-putt par on the next but another clutch par save after he found tree trouble off the tee on the 17th slammed the door on Poosit after Alm’s challenge faltered early, a 78 seeing the Swede slip to joint 39th.

Solman’s fourth professional win came after his career was stalled by Covid and then by a series of frustrating near-misses on last season’s EuroPro Tour. His consolation for seven top-10 finishes, including a pair of joint runner-up placings, was being crowned Rookie of the Year, following in the footsteps of Tyrrell Hatton, Jordan Smith and Jack Senior.

“(I’m) delighted with my first OWGR (Official World Golf Ranking) win. It’s been a long time coming,” Sloman said.

“I bottled a few tournaments at the back end of last year so to get over the line is a big relief. The close calls on the EuroPro really helped me. Coming down the stretch, I knew what I had to do, didn’t get as nervous, I guess. Still nervous all day but I was able to handle it and get over the line.”

Poosit closed with a 66 to finish at 14-under and is up to third in the OOM courtesy of his runner-up cheque for US$8,625.

Dodge Kemmer holds onto pole position despite being in Seoul for the latest Asian Tour event after Chanat Sakulpolphaisan was unable to take advantage of the American’s absence. The Thai settled for a share of ninth at Laguna Golf Phuket, a Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.

After a two-day break, the BTS will resume with the Laguna Phuket Cup on Sunday. Like all of the BTS events, it will be contested over 54 holes and offer a purse of US$75,000.

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