Michele Thomson’s dream finally comes true as she prepares for Women’s Open debut

Scot has secured a place in the major at Royal Troon after missing out in the past and is relishing the biggest event of her career

Michele Thomson will take her place in the 144-player field for this week's historic first staging of the AIG Women's Open at Royal Troon. Picture: Tristan Jones
Michele Thomson will take her place in the 144-player field for this week's historic first staging of the AIG Women's Open at Royal Troon. Picture: Tristan Jones

At last. Michele Thomson’s player’s badge for the AIG Women’s Open is the real thing. The Aberdonian already has three at home, but she got them for being a reserve.

On each occasion, Thomson savoured the build-up to the major but was left like a kid pressing her nose to the sweetie shop window when the action got underway.

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Not this time, though. The 33-year-old has a place locked down in the 144-player field for this week’s historic first staging at Royal Troon, where she’ll join Catriona Matthew, Gemma Dryburgh, Carly Booth and Kylie Henry in flying the Saltire.

With no qualifier this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the decision was taken to offer those spots instead through last week’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club.

The 22 lucky ladies in East Lothian at the weekend included both Henry and Thomson and, after a flying visit home on Sunday night to enjoy a kip in her own bed, the latter is now gearing up to see her golfing dream finally come true.

“When juniors are on the practice green, you know they are saying to each other ‘this putt is to win The Open or Women’s Open’ and, when I was younger, this was an event I always wanted to play in,” said Thomson with a tangible tone of excitement in her voice.

“To be here this week and know I am going to get a game on Thursday is really sweet because I’ve had three players’ badges before but never actually played as I was a reserve on those occasions.

“I think at Sunningdale in 2008 I was first or second reserve. That was Annika Sorenstam’s last Open. I was a bit of a rookie back then and I was at the range at 6am in the morning and bashing balls all day.

“I look back now and think that if I’d got a tee time at 3 o’clock I would have been knackered by the time I got on the tee. I was also close at Birkdale two years later, so it is exciting now to know that I am actually in the field.”

Thomson, who played against newly-crowned ASI Ladies Scottish Open champion Stacy Lewis in the 2008 Curtis Cup at St Andrews, is in her second spell as a professional, having turned her back on golf for a spell to be a policewoman.

Since deciding to give it another go, she picked up two medals in the inaugural European Championships at Gleneagles two years ago and is now relishing her week not just rubbing shoulders with the world’s best players but actually heading into battle with them.

“Making the cut in the Scottish Open was a massive goal of mine at The Renaissance Club as I knew these spots were up for grabs here and, though I didn’t have the best of starts with a 78, I went out on Friday knowing what I had to do and played well, carding a 69,” said Thomson.

“I obviously didn’t have the best of weekends (with rounds of 79-76), but the course set-up last week, though brilliant, was brutal. I thought it was tighter than last year and the rough was also up.

“Obviously it’s given me good preparation for this week, as did playing in the Carnoustie Challenge on the new Tartan Pro Tour the week before.

“I just have to cut out some of the big numbers I was making, but I think that comes from being a bit rusty and not playing tournament golf in a long time. I’ve just got to relax this week and take it as it comes.”

Along with a number of others in the field, Thomson has experience of playing Royal Troon from the Helen Holm Trophy, an amateur event that is now called the Scottish Women’s Open.

“It was always brutal weather in that,” she said, laughing, of a tournament normally held in April.

Managed by Paul Lawrie through his Five Star Sports Agency, Thomson is also hoping that having a major winner in her corner can help her rise to the 
challenge in the biggest event of her career as players battle it out for a $4.5 million prize pot.

“Paul was the first person I turned to for advice about this week,” she said. “The main tip he gave me was to try and stay out of the fairway bunkers. Even if you have longer shots in, if you can get on the green and give yourself birdie 
chances, then you should do well.

“I think you have to try and have a similar mentality round here to Tiger Woods when he didn’t find a single bunker at St Andrews when winning The Open in 2000 and then used a driving iron at Hoylake six years later.”

Thomson is the last of the five Scots out in the first round on Thursday, partnering Japan’s Hara Nomura and American Dana Finkelstein in the third last match at just after 3pm.

“One of my dreams was to play in the Women’s Open in front of my dad and my brother,” she said of the one tinge of disappointment about this week due to the fact the event is being played behind closed doors.

“Hopefully they’ll be able to watch some of me on TV if I play well and I’ve got to think this will not be my one and only appearance, so hopefully they will be able to see me again some time in the future.”

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