Tom’s blog reflecting on his off season can be read on the Friends Provident International website here: https://advisers.fpinternational.com/about-us/tom-gandy-sponsorship/off-season-2023.htm
Promising Start to Professional Career for Rookie Ana Dawson
Ladies European Tour (LET) rookie and former Peel Golf Club star Ana Dawson made a successful start to her professional career in Africa this week with a strong performance in Mombasa at the Magical Kenya Ladies Open. Despite being one of the lower rated players in the field, Ana defied the rankings and showed the same grit and determination that carried her through Qualifying School (Q School) at the end of 2022 to overcome a shaky start and force herself into the Top 60 and ties needed to make the 2-day cut and ensure that she played all 4 rounds in her first professional event. For comparison, former World Number 1 and US Open Champion Justin Rose took 16 events to make his first cut.
The event was a great introduction to life on Tour for Ana, as the travel and flights for the 22 hour trip from UK to Kenya meant that she arrived virtually in the middle of the night. As well as acclimatising to the heat and humidity of the Kenyan weather, she had to reset her body-clock and alter her preparation regime to fit in with the Tour schedule, including the practice round constraints, and still ensure that she was fit and ready to tee it up a few days later. As well as the tough course, another thing that the players had to contend with was the wildlife on the fairways. It’s clearly not in the Peel Golf Club local rules as to whether you get a free drop from a Zebra!
After a scrappy first 9 holes, there was a real risk of a premature end to Ana’s participation in her first event. However, she displayed the sort of resilience that secured her victory in the international Faldo Series and saw her through Q School last year, to play a solid second 9 on day one, and then shoot level par – one of the best rounds of the day – on Day 2 to ensure that she qualified for the final 2 days and guaranteed a pay check for her efforts. Another fine 18 holes on the final day saw Ana finish just outside the Top 50, but with some really valuable experience to take forward to the rest of the season.
“Rolling in a 60ft putt for par on the 18th hole, to make the cut in my European tour debut is something I don’t think I’ll ever forget! It was an amazing experience and I already can’t wait for my next event to try and improve on this result.” – Ana Dawson
Ana’s next outing will either be in South Africa or in Spain at the start of March, depending on entries.
Isle of Man golfing Star makes Tour Debut
Two time Isle of Man Ladies Champion Ana Dawson will make a little piece of history on Thursday as she makes her professional debut at the Kenya Open, becoming the first Isle of Man player to compete on the Ladies European Tour (LET). The event, held at the Vipigno Ridge resort, just outside Mombasa, carries an overall purse of €350 000, with the winner taking home €45 000, as well as the first trophy of the LET season. Ana will tee it up alongside 95 other hopefuls as she aims to plant the Manx flag firmly on the leaderboard and make a lightning start to her rookie season on the Tour.
Ana earned her place in the field via an excellent finish to her 2022 season; this included both national and international amateur victories in the prestigious Faldo Series, and culminated in a confident, assured performance across two stages of Qualifying School at La Manga at the end of the year. She played some outstanding golf across a gruelling final two weeks of hard competition in December, with a gutsy finish of two sub-70 rounds on the last two days ensuring that she achieved full Tour status at the first time of asking and made the decision to turn professional the easiest of choices.
The climate in Kenya clearly has little in common with Peel or Castletown in January. To ensure she is ready for the change of climate, Ana has been preparing for the start of the season with a 10 day training camp in Portugal. This was primarily at the Benamor resort in the Algarve region, just outside Faro, where the course generously offered to host her for 10 days, providing access to the course, range, and short-game facilities, as well as the local gym.
As well ensuring she has her A game ready for Kenya, and is fit and ready to play 72 holes week in-week out, there are other aspects of the transition onto the Tour that take some getting used to. These include completing all of the Tour induction paperwork, understanding the responsibilities around Tour membership, and getting used to the rules around everything from Pro-am participation to sponsorship regulations.
“I’m very grateful to everyone on the island – both companies and individuals – who have helped me get onto that first tee and I’m hugely thankful for the support. The last month has been pretty hectic but right now I’m just excited to just go play golf.” – Ana Dawson
The Ladies European Tour tagline for the 2023 season is #RaiseOurGame. With a full season of events on her calendar across multiple continents, Ana will be looking to do just that. And to put the Isle of Man very much on the golfing map.
Tom’s FPI Blog December 2022
Having come back from Q School late last month after a busy end to the 2022 season, I thought I would take some time to reflect before penning my final Blog of what has been a pretty frustrating, and mostly disappointing year. With the way the Tour is organised, there is always a chance to recover with a good final Q School performance but, although I made the Final Stage again, a few loose shots saw me miss out on the final 2 days and will see my category slip for 2023.
I started the season with lots of confidence and felt like my game was in good shape. However, the competition level is always high and it can be a struggle to get the results you feel you are capable of when things don’t go your way. I felt that I didn’t really perform to my potential for the first half of the year on the Challenge Tour and, ironically, it was only when I got the opportunity to play a concerted run of DP World Tour events in the summer that I began to play the sort of golf I know I can. Even here, though, it seemed like the results didn’t quite match the performances, which was doubly frustrating as I played myself onto a few leaderboards in the early rounds – particularly at the Hero Open up in Scotland where I had probably my best round of the season, including 7 straight birdies. I really thought this was the start of a change of luck, but I wasn’t quite able to hold onto the momentum for the end of the Challenge Tour season and although I made it through to the Final Stage of Q School, returning to the Challenge Tour next year with a reduced playing category was definitely not what I was hoping for. However, that is golf and I am determined to come back better and stronger next year.
I’d like to sign off for the year with a huge thank you to everyone who has supported me again in 2022. From all of those on the Island who have sent messages or just followed the results, to the sponsors and benefactors who have helped to ensure that I could concentrate on just playing golf. I’d especially like to thank my equipment sponsors, Mizuno, and my headline commercial sponsor, Friends Provident International. Once again, it has been a privilege to wear their logos throughout the year – both for FPI and their sister company, RL360. Despite the disappointing year and reduced playing category, I am hugely grateful to them for sticking with me for 2023 as I look to rebound from this year’s disappointments and play myself back onto the DP World Tour where I believe I belong.
A very Merry Christmas to everyone on the Island – and beyond – and best wishes for a successful and prosperous 2023.
Tom’s FPI Blog September 2022
I’ve had a very mixed few weeks in September with some really nice rounds, unfortunately mixed in with some disappointing ones where I didn’t play my best golf, or the putts just didn’t drop. However, the fundamentals of my game still feel strong and I put a lot of this down to my practice routines so I thought I’d share some of these with you this month.
My practice is always broken down into technical, skill based, and competitive practice. Technical is technique aspects, mostly done away from tournament, but I have some check-ins to monitor to ensure that I don’t get off track. Skill based is like shot variety, experimenting a bit; different flights, heights, shapes etc. Competitive is one ball only and varies depending on the area of the game, but there’s always a score and a consequence attached to try and get you more ‘game ready’. I play lots of golf too – the best form of ‘competitive practice’ really is being out there.
For practice rounds, I tend to break them down in to groups of 3 – just ‘play the hole’, where I just get used to the course, hit the tee shot I think I need, approach shot, hit some putts and chips around the green. The next hole I would do an up and down (around the green drop a ball and try and chip it close and hole the putt). Then I would play the third hole to keep a score, as if I was in tournament mode. I would just do this three hole rotation either 3 times (9 holes) or 6 times, but usually 3 and then the back 9 I might have a game against the boys for a few ££…
On the day of a tournament, my pre round warm-up is usually between 1 hour and 15mins and 1 hour and 30 mins – depending on tee time. I like to do a little bit of everything, so spend some time on putting, short game, and full shots, before finishing off by holing out some shorter putts just before teeing off.
Finally, post round it’s about warming down, maybe reviewing what’s happened out there and trying to make a tweak if it’s needed. However, I usually try not to do a huge deal after the round as after a 1 hour and 30 mins warm up and often over 5 hours on the course, I normally need to go and sit down! Thanks to everyone for their support – I’m looking for a strong end to the season
Tom’s FPI Blog August 2022
It feels like it’s been a little since I last wrote a blog, there’s certainly been lots of golf since I last updated you all!
Over the last four weeks I was able to play on the full DP World Tour as they held events that counted for both their rankings and the Challenge Tour rankings. Fortunately they were all UK based too much made it a no brainer as travel is extremely difficult at the moment and any events I can play where I can just load up my car and go, save on any potential extra stresses – loads of the guys travelling by plane are finding that their clubs and/or luggage don’t turn up at the moment!
Anyway, these last four weeks have been further evidence of my game improving, which is encouraging to see with a big chunk of the season still left to go. Hillside was first up and I didn’t score the way I felt I played so the result was disappointing there. I then went to Fairmont St Andrews, where things really felt like they started to turn. I played a steady opening 9 holes before making 7 consecutive birdies (one short of the DP World Tour record) to shoot 7 under par on the opening day. I then shot 3 under par day 2 and was sitting nicely heading in to the weekend, which I wasn’t able to capitalise on but still, progress all the same.
Next up Celtic Manor in Wales where again I played some very solid stuff Thursday and Friday before another disappointing weekend. Then it was Galgorm Castle in Northern Ireland where again I opened the tournament pretty solidly and was cruising along before making two frustrating bogeys on my final two holes on the Friday to miss the cut by 1 and end up packing my bags a few days earlier than I’d of hoped!
There’s plenty of encouragement in there and in the stats too which I keep a close eye on which then informs my practice. I’ve headed home now for the next couple of weeks to refresh and then work at my game before the next stint on the road!
Tom’s FPI Blog May 2022
A short blog this week as I look back on a great TT week on the Island and forward to the next stint of events on the Tour.
The first three weeks in Europe were a real mixed bag with the weather. I played in the height of the winds in both Spain and Scotland which made scoring very tricky although I felt that I was hitting the ball pretty well. In the Czech Republic, again there were plenty of good things in there on what was a tough track.
As an indicator of how up and down this Tour can be, I played with a Spanish lad in the event in Cadiz and we shot the same 36 hole total to miss the cut. The next week he won in Scotland. It shows that each week is a fresh start and you don’t need to carry any of the baggage from the previous week if it’s not gone well – any week you can turn up with your best game and win.
Overall, I am still trying to cut the mistakes down which seem to be costing me a bit. There are loads of positive signs though, which are really encouraging in many areas. In particular, after working really hard at my short game over the last 6 months or so, it feels like it’s finally coming together which gives me plenty of confidence for my next run of events.
Tom’s FPI Blog April 2022
Apologies for the long gap since my last blog, but there hasn’t been much happening over the early Spring so not much to report. I was supposed to play 3 tournaments in Africa in March but a combination of events meant that 3 turned into one so not as much competitive golf as I would have liked. On the plus side, that has meant more time at home on the Island and I really enjoyed the FPIL Golf Clinic at the end of last month. It was great to see so many people and I think (hope) that everyone went away quite happy, and with some swing tips!
In preparation for the European season starting, I took the opportunity to sharpen up my competitive edge with a couple of events in Scotland at the start of May on their Tartan Tour. It was good trip, with a 5th place in first event at Barassie, shooting 9 under for the two rounds. For the second event at Dundonald the wind had got up and the scoring was tougher, but I still managed a decent finish (25th) with lots of encouraging signs.
I’m now just looking forward to getting back out onto the Challenge Tour for the main part of the season.
Tom’s FPI Blog February 2022
After a fairly long off-season (I last completed in Portugal at the end of September 2021) I am about to embark on my new season, beginning at the great Fancourt Golf Estate in George, South Africa. This starts a run of four consecutive events in South Africa, before a two week break and a further two events in SA, followed by a visit to Tanzania to play an event at Mount Kilimanjaro Golf Club.
The off-season has been productive for me, putting a lot of work in in the short game area in particular – an area that is usually a weaker part of my game – and trying to identify things I would class as my ‘Key Ingredients’ to performing well week-to-week. I felt like last year I got off track a little often when faced with adversity, so I aim to be better at sticking to what I know works for me. On top of this I’ve worked hard in the gym, trying to remain strong and robust for the season ahead (I know you probably think I just stroll round a golf course, but there’s more to it I swear) and to increase my club head speed so that I can hit the ball a bit further. All of these things have gone well with improvements in all areas, so I look forward to putting everything to the test and seeing how my game stands up in competition. It’s been a long time since I have had any real competitive action so I’m sure there’ll be some ‘rusty’ errors in the early weeks, but I’ll be able to deal with that.
Thank you to FPIL and RL360 for continuing to support my journey in 2022, I hope we have a successful year together!!
Gandy Returns to Form in The Alps
Rowany golfing star, Tom Gandy, emphatically put an indifferent few months firmly behind him over the weekend with an excellent finish in the Challenge Tour’s Euram Open. Held in the picturesque mountains of Austria, the event saw Tom record his first Top 10 result of 2021.
It had been a slow couple of months for the Manxman following his career-best finish on the full European Tour in Tenerife in early May, but the combination of a freshening break back at home on the Island, and the recent accolade of winning the 2020 Isle of Man Sportsman of the Year title, combined to see a big uptick in form. Despite play being interrupted on a number of the days by heavy rain and thunderstorms, Tom kept both his focus and his form, putting together excellent rounds of 65, 67, 69, 66 for a 13 under par total and a tie for 8th place. He even managed to plant the Manx flag atop of the leaderboard for an hour or so on Day 2, as he set the pace among the early starters. In another milestone, this finish sees him break into the Top 1000 golfers in the world for the first time, according to the Official World Golf Rankings – another great achievement.
This week sees Tom return to action on the full European Tour, as he tees it up at the Celtic Manor resort in the Cazoo Open. With an increased prize fund – and more ranking points on offer – Tom will be hoping for a repeat performance to take him to the end of this mini-run of events before he takes another well-earned break at home.
With the stern test posed by the Celtic Manor course, another four sub-70 rounds should again see the Isle of Man flag flying at the right end of the leaderboard.