Jonathan ‘Jigger’ Thomson is hoping to take momentum from a dream debut at The 149th Open Championship into the Italian Challenge, which takes place at Margara Golf Club from July 22-25.
The Englishman marked his debut at golf’s oldest Major Championship with a hole-in-one at the par three 16th hole to claim the only ace of the week and secure his spot for the weekend when he looked in danger of missing the cut at Royal St George’s on Friday evening.
Thomson enjoyed the opportunity to play with some of the world’s best at The Open, having teed it up alongside 25-time European Tour winner and reigning Race to Dubai Champion Lee Westwood in the third round and World Number Ten Harris English in the final round.
“It was just outrageous really,” he said. “I was right on the cut mark at the time and at first, I didn’t really believe that it had gone in. That is why my reaction was probably a bit slow towards the crowd and the rest of the group, but it was a special moment for me.
“I played with two of the best players in the world over the weekend and I took confidence from that because I managed to hold my own and I didn’t feel uncomfortable in that company. It was just nice to play with those guys and try and build confidence and momentum from that week. I thought I played very well I just didn’t hole enough putts at the weekend but other than that it was some experience.
“I didn’t find it too daunting because I have played on the European Tour in Denmark, where I lost the play-off in front of a huge crowd. I enjoy the experience of playing in front of the crowd and the noise it’s something that we all play for as professional golfers.”
Thomson, who is affectionately known as Jigger, is hoping to use his display at The Open as a catalyst for success on the European Challenge Tour and also highlighted the importance of his caddie, Will McIntosh, for the role he plays both on and off the course.
“It’s definitely my aim now to take the momentum from The Open into the rest of the Challenge Tour season,” he said. “I really want to push on now and I feel like I’ve been playing great on the Challenge Tour in the past few events I have played in and got literally nothing out of it, so hopefully there is a purple patch on its way and I can build on this moving forwards.
“Me and Will started out together when I first turned pro. We got our Tour card and parted ways for a while but it’s great to be back working together because he is a really close friend as well as a caddie. I think more than ever that relationship is invaluable because it can be quite a lonely place with Covid bubbles. I have been a much happier person being around him and having a laugh as well as just playing golf.”
Thomson joins numerous stars on show at the Italian Challenge including Road to Mallorca Number One Santiago Tarrio and home duo Matteo Manassero and Lorenzo Scalise. There is also a €300,000 prize fund available this week, which is the biggest European Challenge Tour prize pool this season excluding the Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final supported by The R&A.
The action in Italy gets under way at 7:30am local time, with Thomson teeing it up alongside Frenchman Clément Berardo and Spain’s Scott Fernandez at 13:50.