TAUNTON’S Tom Sloman will play his first tournament as a full-time professional at the ‘home of golf’ this week, lining up alongside a gallery of stars in St Andrews, writes Richard Walsh.

Sloman was back home briefly at the end of last week, after a hectic fortnight which has culminated in him turning pro just a few days ago.

The 23-year-old, who was born and grew up locally, and is an honorary member of Taunton & Pickeridge Golf Club, said: “I’ve come home for a short rest after a busy two weeks, before heading off to take part in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland next week.

“But it’s been a pretty good time for me and I have enjoyed it very much.”

Before turning professional, Sloman competed for Great Britain in the Walker Cup at Hoylake, where despite the hosts losing out, he was one of the outstanding competitors.

He said: “It was a pretty unreal experience for me and to be honest I wasn’t expecting as many people to be there to watch it.

“There were big crowds there every day and I had a great time.”

He added: “All of my family and friends were there to watch me, so I didn’t feel at all nervous.

“There were 20 or so people who had made the journey from Taunton & Pickeridge, including my parents and my girlfriend.

“The whole of the weekend was pretty special to me and great fun.

“Playing foursomes with Tom Plumb, my girlfriend’s brother, was probably the highlight for me and I loved it.

“On the last day I was also one of only two who won their singles.”

Following the Walker Cup the Taunton golfer then flew to Lahinch Golf Club in Ireland, where he helped England to a clean sweep victory in the Home Internationals.

He said: “I enjoyed playing in the Home Internationals and they were good fun as well, although a bit of an anti-climax after the Walker Cup because there weren’t any crowds there to cheer us on like there were at Hoylake.”

Looking ahead to the next couple of weeks, Sloman – who flew up to Scotland on Monday – added: “I get three practice rounds in at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns before the Dunhill Links tournament starts on Thursday [today, September 26].

“I have played at St Andrews before and it’s a really good course – in fact the whole town is all about golf – but I have never played Carnoustie, which I am looking forward to, and also Kingsbarns, which is also meant to be pretty good.”

The championship is part of the European Tour and is played as a four ball better ball competition, with each team playing three rounds before the cut on Saturday evening decides who plays on the final day.

The tournament is a pro-am event, meaning that the likes of Sir Ian Botham, Luis Figo, Ronan Keating, Bill Murray, Sir Steve Redgrave, Justin Timberlake and Shane Warne line up alongside golfing royalty Luke Donald, Shane Lowry, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose.

Sloman tees off at 11.01am today at St Andrews, along with Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari and Brad Simpson, lead singer of The Vamps.

“I’m really looking forward to taking part in my first professional tournament and it will be great experience for me,” Sloman said.

“After the Dunhill Links I have got Q School at Frilford Heath in Oxford starting on the Tuesday; hopefully I will do well there.

“For the last two years I have been playing golf at a good level, so this is the next step for me on my way to becoming a tournament pro.”

Sloman then plays in the Q School event at Frilford Heath in Oxford, from Tuesday.