Five months since turning professional Thomas Detry is celebrating earning a European Tour card after surviving a tense final day at the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final to seal a spot in the European Challenge Tour’s top 16.
The former World Amateur Number Eight joined the paid ranks in June at the KPMG Trophy in his home country, where he caught the eye with a composed performance in front of the droves of local fans who had come to watch him – finishing tied sixth in his first Challenge Tour start.
The 23 year old nearly triumphed in his second event on the 2016 Road to Oman, narrowly missing out to José-Filipe Lima at the Najeti Open.
Detry, who was a team mate of Ryder Cup star Thomas Pieters at the University of Illinois, would not have to wait long for his first professional victory, though, winning the Bridgestone Challenge by a record 12 shots in August – on the same day Pieters claimed his third European Tour title at the Made in Denmark.
But the young Belgian found it tough in Oman at the Challenge Tour’s season finale, finishing 41st in a 46-man field to leave his place in the top 16 hanging in the balance.
Despite late charges from Adrien Saddier and Jens Dantorp, Detry was able to cling on to 15th place in the Road to Oman Rankings, and was thrilled to be graduating on to the European Tour sooner than he expected.
“It was a pretty amazing feeling,” he said. “I only turned pro a couple of months ago in June, so I wasn’t really expecting to get on to the European Tour so fast but it has happened.
“That Saturday in Oman was one of the worst days of life, at least for the last two hours of the day, but it felt amazing when the wait was over.
“I turned pro right away after I came back from college at the beginning of June. It was a quick turnaround as I played in Belgium the week after playing in the NCAA finals and my expectations were pretty low. I knew I had been playing well but I didn’t really know what the outcome was going to be.
“I had a plan with my coach to be on the Challenge Tour for a maximum of two and a half years, and we said that if it happens in six months it happens in six months but equally if it happens in two and a half years it happens in two and a half years, so the plan was just to be patient.
“We knew that if we do what we have done the last couple of years it would come, but I didn’t expect it to come as fast as it did.
“I have not made a plan for next season yet. I kind of know which tournaments I will play in at the start of the season, but I just want to enjoy the next few days and will start to think about next year when I have had some time back at home.
“I learnt a lot this year. I know now that I can’t really play more than five weeks in a row, as after four weeks I start to get mentally tired and physically tired. That’s the thing I learnt the most this year – that it is important to let myself get some rest during the season.”