Two missed cuts and a best of T-58 in four Challenge Tour starts in South Africa in February-March didn’t exactly put Sloman’s name up in lights heading into the Asian Development Tour’s four-event Phuket swing co-sanctioned by the MENA Tour.
But scratch just beneath the surface of those performances and you discover one of England’s most promising young professionals. The 25-year-old former Walker Cupper enlightened any doubters of his talent by returning to Laguna Golf Phuket early yesterday (May 4) to complete his delayed opening round at the $75,000 event (B2.5 million) in an impressive 63 strokes, seven under. He then headed straight back out to record a 65, easing to -12 for the championship, two ahead of Swede Jesper Alm (66-64) and Thai Poosit Supupramai (67-63).
With another five players, including overnight leader Jesse Yap (Singapore) within five shots of the lead and Par-70 layout giving up plenty of birdies, there are no guarantees Sloman will kick on to his fourth professional victory today and first in an OWGR event.
But given his pedigree and early play, don’t be surprised if the current world No. 866 does emerge victorious to seal the US$13,125 champion’s cheque and the biggest win of his career.
Sloman, all 6ft and 105kg of him, enjoyed a stellar amateur career, capped by being leading points scorer for Great Britain and Ireland in their 15½-10½ Walker Cup loss to the U.S. at Royal Liverpool in 2019.
The big-hitting Chelsea FC fan will also call on all the lessons learned on last season’s EuroPro Tour where he rattled off seven top-10s, including a pair of joint runner-up finishes, to be crowned Rookie-of-the-Year and follow in the footsteps of Tyrrell Hatton, Jordan Smith and Jack Senior among others.
He’s certainly no stranger to MENA Tour followers with four top-20 finishes in 2020 highlighted by a share second place at the Journey to Jordan 1 Championship that Feb. and a tie for third in the last event before the Middle East and North Africa tour was shut down by the pandemic, the Journey to Jordan 2 Championship which concluded on Mar 4, 2020.
Sloman is currently 7th in the MENA Tour’s now “2020+ Journey to Jordan” OOM race with $14,183. He secured his start in Phuket via his performances in the Middle East in early 2020 and victory today has the potential to propel him to the top of the standings, although compatriot David Langley will likely have a say in that.
Langley will begin the final round in a share of 17th place on -5 and with a start in one of the Asian Tour’s new $1.5 million+ International Series events on the line for the overall MENA Tour champion after the Beautiful Thailand Swing, knows every shot and every greenback will count in the final wash-up.
The top-10 in the MENA Tour OOM standings after the four, quickfire Phuket events will also earn two additional ADT starts and exemptions to the 2023 Asian Tour Q-School, adding further intrigue down the leaderboard.
Chanat Sakulpolphaisan, meanwhile, is making a decent fist of being the top-ranked player in the ADT OOM standings with current leader, American Dodge Kemmer, in Korea for the Asian Tour’s 41st GS Caltex Maekyung Open at Nam Seoul Country Club.
Sakulpolphaisan has signed for a pair of 67s to be one of eight players tied for 9th at -6.
The 36-hole cut fell at -1. Among those to miss by a stroke where two-time MENA Tour winner Luke Joy (England) and Aussie Harrison Gilbert who marked his professional debut with rounds of 75-65. With two eagles, Gilbert was sensationally eight under through 16 holes in his second round only to stumble into the clubhouse with a bogey-double bogey finish, a frustration he’ll no doubt look to turn into a hard lesson learned at the Laguna Phuket Cup starting on Sunday.
Yesterday’s low scoring also included hole-in-one from Sydney Chung. Sadly the American wasn’t able to capitalise on his perfect 9-iron from 147 yards on the 2nd, signing for a 70 to go with his opening 75 to miss the cut by six strokes.
Sloman, Supupramai and Alm set out in the final group at 8.59am Phuket today.