Published: 06:00, 29 July 2021
| Updated: 12:34, 29 July 2021
Golfer Jonathan Thomson has given a fascinating insight to life behind the scenes during The Open at Royal St George's.
The 25-year-old Englishman was playing in his first major and grabbed the limelight with a hole in one at the 16th on day two.
He spent the week staying in a luxury motorhome at Sandwich Technology School with neighbours Ian Poulter and Tommy Fleetwood and loved every minute of his experience in Kent.
"The week before The Open, I played a tournament in France - so I drove straight from there to Sandwich in time for the major," he explained.
"We looked at hotels in advance, but there weren't that many of them, the prices were through the roof and a lot of them were all booked up - we pay for all our own accommodation while on tour.
"When I first qualified, I knew some of the other golfers - Ian Poulter, Tommy Fleetwood and Henrik Stenson - were staying in RVs usually used for Formula 1, so I joined them!
"It was the most luxurious experience of my life, it was like a five star hotel on wheels. We were actually staying on the playing fields at Sandwich Technology School which is round the corner from the course.
"But they did it really well with loads of security and we had a fleet of courtesy cars to get us to the course each day, as we were sadly not allowed in the town due to being in our own little Covid bubble. It was logistically perfect."
It was the first time Thomson had played at Royal St George's but he never looked out of place as he finished tied for 53rd spot and pocketed nearly 25,000 euros in prize money.
Qualifier Thomson, who has teamed up with coffee retailer Coffee Friend, said: "I'd never played the course before, nor had I been to Sandwich either.
"It's a beautiful part of the world and while I grew up learning my trade on links courses, the course was set up for Open Championship standard which was the hardest layout I've ever played in, no two ways about it.
"It's a course stooped in history but just a really lovely place with stunning weather and a fantastic atmosphere.
"The Sandwich locals were really friendly - it goes without saying that British crowds are the best in the world, bar none.
"They are very respectful and knowledgeable, they understand good and bad shots, they don't scream 'mashed potato' down every fairway, you cannot ask for any more in a crowd.
"It was by far the biggest crowd I had ever played in front of, being my first Major - and it made it sweeter with so many people being there after lockdown eased.
"Playing with no crowds for the last year or two has been very bland, so it was magnificent to have them back - it was a perfect environment to play golf in at Royal St George's.
"These experiences make you as a person, my career has been one big rollercoaster up until now, so moments such as this fire you up."
Thomson, a towering figure at 6ft 9in, hopes that he's won a few new fans in Kent after his hole in one.
He added: "Qualifying for a Major was something I'd dreamed about since I was a kid - so when I stepped up to the first tee, I must admit I was bricking it, the reality kicked in there and then.
"But I had my coach, my fiancée and my caddy in a bubble of four and they really helped calm the nerves - we tried to just treat it as just another tournament and managed expectations, but we did feel the emotion before and after.
"So making the cut in the fashion I made it in was mind blowing for me really. On the 16th, it was a blind shot so I had to rely on the reaction of the crowd - that roar of the crowd when I sunk the hole in one will stay with me forever, it came to me in three stages of noise. It was louder than a football match.
"I felt I had charmed the people of Kent with my hole in one - hopefully I've got a fair amount of new fans now!
"It was the most intense week of my life, the detail and levels of preparation were incredible and gave me a taste of wanting this to be the norm for me.
"Even playing and holding my own with Lee Westwood and Harris English lifted my confidence and it was special to get their words of advice. I am striving to be better by playing with the best. It made me know that the things I am doing are right and the breaks are going to come for me."
Thomson, a big coffee fan who loves a double espresso before he goes out to play 18 holes, has spoken to Coffee Friend for the latest Coffee Break blog.