In this week’s Player Blog presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Thomas Detry discusses securing his PGA TOUR card, the importance of changing his caddie earlier this season, his shared goal with close friend Thomas Pieters and the joy of becoming a father for the first time.
The DP World Tour is the reason I am the golfer I have become today. I have no intention of forgetting what it has given me and stopping playing in events on the DP World Tour now that I have a PGA TOUR card. I love Europe and it's something that is very important to me that I keep playing there as much as I can.
Everything is brand new, so we are trying to figure out how to structure my schedule so that I can play on both the DP World Tour and PGA TOUR. It has certainly felt like I have been playing pretty much non-stop the last few months.
Securing my PGA TOUR card for the 2022-23 season was a bonus. It was not at the forefront of my mind at the start of the year. Last year, I was in the top 75 in the world so played in quite a few PGA TOUR events on invites to get some experience and try to put myself in contention to win. I didn’t manage to get a title but enjoyed some good results. I knew I was going to be in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, so getting a card was always a possibility.
I approached the three-event Korn Ferry Tour Finals with a nothing-to-lose mentality. I was in a good position on the DP World Tour Rankings so was able to miss a couple of weeks in Europe without fearing if it would put me in jeopardy of losing my card.
I finished fourth in the first of the three-event stretch at the Albertsons Boise Open, putting myself in with a good chance of victory. That pretty much sealed the deal for me. I missed the cut in the next two events, but I knew I was already in a good position to get one of the 25 PGA TOUR cards.
I changed caddie earlier in the year and I put my good form in a large part down to that decision. Since the end of June, I have worked with JP Fitzgerald, who caddied for Rory for so many years. He helped me change my mindset at tournaments. I had started to play defensive golf, scared of my results but I have since adopted a more aggressive approach. It’s really paying off. I had a top ten at the Genesis Scottish Open, a solid week in The Open at St Andrews and then a top five in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth after the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
I have also started to bag share which means I have a caddie, Barry Williams, working for me in the US and then JP does the events on the DP World Tour. Some of the best players in the world do that and I enjoy having a different person on the bag. It feels a bit fresher to get a different voice and perspective.
I played collegiate golf at the University of Illinois up until I graduated in 2016 so I know a lot of people who are US-based and don’t feel lonely there. I am familiar with the country and played a lot of the golf courses on the Tour when I was a student at university. All these things make it a little easier for me.
The main challenge of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals was that I missed my family. I have a six-month-old daughter called Sophia. I quickly realised travelling without my daughter and my wife was not something I wanted to consider. My wife is such an important help to me, travelling with me and we live the absolute dream together.
The birth of my daughter is the best thing that has happened to me in my life so far. When she was born in April it was tough to get the motivation to return to competitive golf. I really wanted to stay at home, be with my family and it might be seen as an easy excuse, but it might explain why I didn’t get off to such a good start when I returned at the Soudal Open in Belgium in April. I do feel being a father has really helped me in my golf and given me that added structure to my life. You quickly forget about the bad rounds when you know you are going back to spend time with your daughter. Although sometimes it can work the opposite way. If I do have a bad round and she isn’t with me that week I just end up getting even more miserable!
I am not going to base myself out in America. I want my child to get either an English-speaking or at least a European-based education. I live in Dubai in the winter and then during the summer I will likely spend my time between Belgium and London.
Playing at the Ryder Cup for Team Europe next September at Marco Simone Golf Club is my ultimate goal. I am close friends with Thomas Pieters and for him the mindset is the same. He has already played in a Ryder Cup at Hazeltine in 2016 and has enjoyed a good season this year. To make my debut at a Ryder Cup on European soil would be special, but to play alongside Thomas would be even better.
One of my short-term goals is to qualify for the Hero Cup in Abu Dhabi in January. I work with Team Europe Vice Captain Edoardo Molinari on the statistical side of my game and have a lot of respect for him as a player and what he has achieved. I hope I can keep my form up and play my part for the European side against Great Britain and Ireland in Abu Dhabi.
I played in the Junior Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in 2010. We had the chance to be inside the ropes and feel the energy of seeing Europe win on home soil. That triggered my passion for the Ryder Cup. It’s an event like no other in our sport. Having previously won the World Cup of Golf with Thomas Pieters in 2018 I think we would be a huge asset to Team Europe at the next Ryder Cup. Time will tell, of course.
My immediate short-term goal is to qualify for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai next month. I am just outside the top 50 in the DP World Tour Rankings so having a good week in Valderrama to help secure my spot is important to me.
Valderrama is an extremely tough golf course – by far the toughest we play on the DP World Tour all season long. Sometimes when you go to a Major Championship, the event organisers can decide to make it difficult with the height of the rough or pin positions but with Valderrama they don’t need to do that. I love the challenge. The winning score is never that much under par. If you shoot two or three under in a round, you will likely move up quite a few spots on the leaderboard. That’s the kind of golf course that I like to play. It’s also the way I like to approach golf, not trying to put unnecessary pressure on myself to make several birdies. When you are patient, invariably you are rewarded with a few birdies so hopefully that proves the case for me this week.
I am trying not to think about winning anymore. That’s not to say getting that breakthrough win is not a goal but I am trying to approach tournaments with a different perspective. It’s aspects like my attitude and resolve that are important in ultimately helping me on my path to longer-term goals. I prefer having goals like trying to qualify for Majors and the Ryder Cup rather than thinking of winning. In the end you are more likely to get the win by building confidence through consistent results. I have been close on several occasions, the play-off defeat on the Rolex Series at the Scottish Open last year sticks out. But I am not trying to question myself and I’m confident that with my game moving in the right direction I will be able to lift a trophy very soon.
I have played in all the Majors so far except the Masters Tournament. I have been on-site a couple of times but never got the chance to play Augusta National. Finishing top 50 on the world rankings at the end of the year to secure my invite would be quite a challenge but who knows. I am in form so hopefully I can keep that going for the rest of the year. The rankings can quickly change if you put together a run of results. It’s always a bucket list ambition to play the Masters so hopefully I can make that happen next year.