Look at this behemoth! When Jon Thomson teed off a few minutes ago, he became the tallest player to ever tee it up in PGA Tour history. Guy is just a large human. When Bryson DeChambeau beefed up last year, folks started calling him the Big Golfer™️. Look at the way Jon dwarfs him and makes him look like a little boy.
The more I read into this guy, the more incredible his story is. 889th ranked golfer in the world, toils away on the Challenge Tour (the European Tour's version of the Korn Ferry Tour), and Open qualifying happens to end up at his home club. Guy goes 69-65 and finds himself in the world's most storied major.
While that story is a great one on its own, it's one that you'll tend to find in any given major championship that isn't the Masters. But it's what he overcame as a child that really makes this one incredible. From Golf Digest:
At the age of 7, Thomas began hemorrhaging weight at a concerning rate. His parents thought—hoped—it was a case of anemia, which occurs when there are a lack of healthy red blood cells in the body to carry oxygen to tissues. Doctors ran a series of tests on a Wednesday. The result was every parent’s worst nightmare: lymphoblastic leukemia. Treatment would begin on Friday. This could not wait.
“I turned to my dad and said, ‘Am I going to die?’” Thomson told Golf Digest. “It was a pretty hard question for my parents to take. But they stayed strong—it was ‘No, we’re going to do the process, it’s a long process, but we’ve got the team behind us at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. We can do it.’ It was one helluva battle.”
Treatment involved lengthy stays in the hospital and brutal rounds of chemotherapy that ravaged the young boy’s immune system. Golf served as a light at the end of the ferocious tunnel; the promise of happier days on the links provided motivation to keep on pushing.
“It’s always been golf. I wasn’t allowed to play any impact sports when I was ill, so it’s always been golf.”
After four years of being in and out of the hospital, the cancer finally subsided. Next came a year of weening himself off heavy medication and re-building his body’s strength.
“I was this 13, 14 year old kid without any immunity whatsoever. Had to have all my baby jabs again. It was not easy.”
4 years of leukemia treatment! Four! Right in the sweet spot of the guy's childhood. There were already so many odds against this guy being in this tournament, starting with the fact that 6 foot 9 guys are simply not supposed to be any good at golf. The golf swing requires too much precision at too many positions for limbs that long to have any sort of consistent coordination. Height just isn't as prevalent in golf as it is in hardly any other sport. So add the traumatic and admirable childhood battle against cancer to the mix and you've got yourself a large golfer that's hard not to root for. Rough start for him as I wrap up this blog at +4 thru 3 holes, but here's to hoping he pulls off another minor miracle and makes it through to the weekend.
Let's go Big Jon.