Beating the hell out of a golf ball is clearly a lot better than being a beat constable. Ask Michele Thomson.
It was ten years ago that Thomson first came to India as a prodigious amateur to play in Bangalore at the Emaar-MGF Masters. She finished T-64. A decade later, she is back here with on a sponsor’s invite from Hero, for the Hero Women’s Indian Open. “I requested an invite so I knew I was coming here after Abu Dhabi,” she said. Those 10 years in between are a story in itself – working for the Scottish police force, working in a pro shop and meeting Donald Trump.
The one-time prodigy, now 28, has seen it all. Literally. From losing her mother Eleanor at 11; to being a Scottish Amateur champion and making the Curtis Cup team, which she recalls was fun, because there were teammates to share the joy with.
She turned pro in 2009 and did begin fairly well if not spectacularly. However, after just ‘half a season’ or so, she gave it all up, because pro golf was “lonely”.
She joined the police and became a Beat Constable in Aberdeen. A little over two years later, she left the Police and worked in a pro shop and in the four-year period from 2009 to 2013, she did not touch golf clubs.
She worked at Trump’s course in Aberdeen. “I came out of the Police and started working in a pro shop and caddying and then decided that I needed to get back on tour. I started working at Donald Trump’s course in Aberdeen. I have met him, but only in passing.”
On Saturday, Thomson rewrote the course record at the Black Knight course by Gary Player at the DLF Golf and Country Club. In one single swoop she brought the record – shared by Patcharajutar Kongkraphan (in 2015) and Marianne Skarpnord (on Friday) down from 5-under to 8-under to open a handy gap at the top. Four birdies on either side of the course, which many consider as the toughest on the LET schedule, saw Thomson card 64 and she moved to 10-under for 36 holes.
“Many of the girls who were there when I left the Tour around 2009 are still around. It’s been fun to get back and they have all been so friendly,” said Thomson after her career performance. “I’m friends with Kelsey MacDonald, Kiran Matharu, Carly Booth.” Matharu, an English golfer of Indian origin, was also a prodigy once, and is now slowly finding her way back.
How did Thomson get back to golf ? After quitting the police, she worked in a Pro shop and as a caddie. One day, watching the Ladies European Tour golf on TV re-kindled her aspirations.
On her website, she says, “Being in the police is a tough job. You witness some difficult scenes – car accidents, bereavement, drunken disturbances. When you are standing outside a bar in the early hours of the morning, waiting for all the drunken people to leave and knowing that trouble could flare at any time, it puts a bad shot on a golf course into perspective. If I play a bad shot now, I know it is just that.”
Thomson came back as a full time pro in 2013. She played local events and some on the LET Access Series. By 2015, she had a win in Spain and was eighth on LET Access Series Money List. A year later, in 2016, she secured her full card for the LET in 2017, finishing fourth on the LET Access Series.
On what her team is, she said, “(former LPGA and LET player) Jo Morley is my caddie. Having the support of my dad, Graham, in the background and my coach Neil Marr and all my friends on tour. If you enjoy your time here and they have your back, it’s great.”
Slowly but steadily, the one-time prodigy, now 28, is once again finding her golfing mojo back. Sunday could be the crowning glory.
By V Krishnaswamy in Gurgaon