GW golfer Thomas Blankvoort will look to put an exclamation point on the end of what has been a remarkable season Saturday at the Penn State Invitational. He won the GW Invitational and has six top-10 finishes this season. The graduate student, who has one year left of eligibility, led GW at the Atlantic 10 Championships last weekend, finishing the tournament 11th overall. According to golf coach Scott Allen, Blankvoort is leading the team and playing the best golf GW has seen in more than 30 years.
Blankvoort said he expects to compete against a strong field this weekend, which includes Penn State University, the top team in the region, and St. John’s University.
“Having a good tournament at the end of the year can always set you up for next year,” Blankvoort said. “If you get invited to tournaments by the likes of Penn State and play well then you get invited back and that is how you build a stronger schedule. We need to get better and to do that we need to see how we measure up against the best competition.”
One can bet that Blankvoort will be ready. He always is. GW’s best golfer since the 1960s attributes his success to a relentless work. The golfer practices every day and has not missed a workout since Dec. 26. Blankvoort had been unhappy with his play and said he needed a break.
His regiment includes six to eight hours of practice on weekends when the team does not have a scheduled tournament. While the team practices for six hours in the afternoon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Blankvoort often arrives early or stays late. He spends three-to-four hours practicing on the Tuesdays and Thursdays when the team does not practice.
Blankvoort, a native of the Netherlands, started golfing at 13 when he moved to England. Blankvoort returned to the Netherlands where he continued to golf. He came to the United States to expand on his golf career and further his education.
But that did not go as planned. Blankvoort missed the cut at a walk-on tryout at the University of Florida and then transferred to GW to pursue his golfing career and continue his education.
“I wanted to come to GW because I wasn’t having a very good time in Florida,” Blankvoort said. “(I) decided it was better to go to a good school. I’ve always wanted to come to America to study and play a sport simultaneously. It is the only country in the world where you can do that.”
Blankvoort made the most of his situation. In November, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in international business. He now studies marketing as a graduate student. Allen said he expects Blankvoort to earn Academic All-American honors.
Blankvoort continues to study and improve as a golfer. He considers his best attributes on the course to be his power and his mental game.
“I am a good ball striker,” Blankvoort said. “I think I have really improved my mental approach to the game. I have become much tougher and don’t let things get to me.”
Allen agreed with Blankvoort’s assessment.
“His best attribute is his mental game,” Allen said. “He knows when to be aggressive and knows how to take trouble out of play. He is a solid all around player.”
Both Blankvoort and Allen and agree that the golfer needs to improve his “streaky” putting game.
“His putting can be hot and cold,” Allen said.
Blankvoort is driven toward continuous improvement. He said he believes that his hard work helps other players to step up and improve as well.
“I try to live by that because in golf you can always get better. That is what pushes me.”
“He works hard and is dedicated,” Allen said. “No one works harder and he is getting better and better each year. He sets a terrific example.”
Blankvoort’s strongest tournament of the year was the GW Invitational earlier this month. Blankvoort won the tournament by seven strokes, shooting back-to-back 72s to end at even par.
“It was probably the best golf I have played in one in a half or two years,” Blankvoort said. “I hit the ball in exactly the right spots. The conditions weren’t easy, but I gave myself birdie chances. I didn’t make many of them, but I never get down on myself.”
Blankvoort said he has been slightly disappointed because he has won only one tournament this season. Blankvoort has been in position to win in five tournaments, including last weekend’s A-10 Championships.
Blankvoort was hoping to shoot a six-under-par for the tournament, but ended up shooting five-over-par. He shot even-par 72s in the first two rounds, but faded in the end shooting a 77.
“There was a three-hole stretch where I shot about six or seven over, so it was very disappointing not playing the way I was capable of playing at the time,” he said.
Next season will be Blankvoort’s final season at GW and he said he hopes to go out with a bang. Among his goals are finishing in the top 150-to-200 nationally and lowering his scoring average below an already impressive 72.5. Blankvoort admitted that to be considered a top-player in the region, he would have to win more than one tournament next season.
“To achieve that here, whether honorable mention, third team, second team, or first team – that would be the crowning achievement of my golf career. I want to move to the next level in terms of scoring and shoot 65 and 66s, which I don’t do yet,” Blankvoort said.
Blankvoort will tryout for the United States Amateur Tournament at the end of July. The tournament will be played at the end of August in Atlanta and will give national exposure to Blankvoort and GW if he makes the cut.
“That is the biggest amateur tournament in the world,” he said. “Once you’re in that you’ve made a statement.”
Blankvoort said he expects to play between six and 10 tournaments during the summer, including the Southeastern Amateur Tournament in Georgia, the Rice Planters Tournament in South Carolina, the Troy Invitational in New York and the Eastern Amateur in Virginia.
Allen said he expects Blankvoort to receive Academic All-American honors for his 3.52 cumulative grade point average.
“He has the numbers in both the classroom and on the golf course,” Allen said.