Michael Thompson scored the first ace at No. 8 in 13 years.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Michael Thompson aced the 231-yard eighth hole Thursday.
The hole-in-one is the first at the Stadium Course since Robert Garrigus made one at the 13th hole in the second round in 2008. The last one made on the eighth hole was in the final round in 2000 by Joe Ozaki.
Thompson used a 3-iron to make his hole-in-one. Charl Schwartzel had just hit his tee shot to 2 1/2 feet to set the tone.
"We were kind of watching -- it landed, and it landed pretty similar to Charl's, and a couple people behind me said, go in, disappear, disappear, and we saw it tracking," Thompson said. "It was kind of like that Golf Tee video game where the ball just kind of, boop, disappears, and then obviously the crowd confirmed it."
In all there have been 29 aces in THE PLAYERS Championship, 25 of which have come at TPC Sawgrass, where the tournament moved to in 1982.
Michael Thompson showed how a cupped left wrist can help from tight lies. (Ehrmann/Getty Images)
By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, PGA TOUR Academy
On a tough Sunday afternoon at The Honda Classic, Michael Thompson used his stellar short game to win his first PGA TOUR event. Thompson is starting to make a name for himself as someone who knows how to play the most difficult courses.
To have a great short game, you must be able to manage those tight lies around the greens. One of the things that worked to Thompson’s advantage on those tight Bermuda lies this week is that he naturally cups his left wrist at address.
With a slightly cupped left wrist, the clubshaft has minimal forward lean, which promotes some bounce on the clubhead and moves the swings low point closer to the ball, allowing for a shallower divot.
One of the most common errors with greenside shots from the fairway is the leading edge gets stuck in the ground. At the TOUR Academies, so many times we see the club shaft excessively forward with the ball too far back in the stance when faced with these same tight scary lies.
This setup will flatten or slightly bow the lead wrist, which exposes the leading edge and moves the swing's low point more past the ball. This combination at slower speeds inevitably leads to some sticky impact positions. Furthermore, this dynamic will often result in the ball coming off very hot, leading to eventual deceleration with the body.
With Thompson’s setup the clubface has more loft and bounce in play. This setup leads to a much shallower divot, promoting a more favorable launch angle and acceleration through the ball.
Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction at the TOUR Academies at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Village. For more information on the TOUR Academy, click here.
Michael Thompson's positive attitude might be his greatest asset. (Ehrmann/Getty Images)
By Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM
The Honda Classic had a major championship atmosphere.
The best in the world were playing. The conditions were extremely difficult and par was a great score. In fact, only five players broke par during the final round at PGA National.
For Michael Thompson, the eventual champion, this PGA TOUR event played to his strengths. While Thompson has many strengths such as his calm demeanor and his impeccable short game, these tough conditions fit his greatest strength: His positive attitude.
Thompson has stated that he wants to have the best attitude on the course. This is an essential strength to have when the tournament is playing very difficult. In fact, this strength suited very him well in the past in tough playing conditions as he tied for second in the 2012 U.S. Open.
The good news is that Thompson’s strength of having a great attitude can be your greatest strength as well.
But let’s be honest. While having a great attitude is an essential ingredient to your success on the course, it is as fickle as an 8 year-old boy at a candy store. Good shots create a sweet air of invincibility. A couple of bad shots can instantly sour your attitude, particularly under tough conditions like everyone experienced at this year’s Honda Classic.
One of the toughest mental game skills to acquire is to remain confident in your ability and keep a positive attitude when your game takes the train south to bogey land. However, no matter how poorly you are playing or how many bad breaks come your way, you can always choose to have a good attitude like Thompson.
Centuries ago, the renowned philosopher Rene Descartes wrote that we have the capacity to think whatever we choose. Your attitude is always a choice and your confidence is always within your control. If you make the correct choice, the chances are much greater that you will become a better player who shoots much better scores under pressure.
Dr. Gregg Steinberg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf. He is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the Tour” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. Dr. Gregg is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players. You can see more about him at www.drgreggsteinberg.com, and you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Thompson finished off an impressive week on Sunday by winning The Honda Classic for his first career PGA TOUR victory.
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By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Players not otherwise eligible for the British Open have this week and next to try to earn a spot in the field at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
Marc Leishman earned one of two spots by virtue of a mini-money list (cumulative earnings from THE PLAYERS Championship, FedEx St. Jude Classic, U.S. Open, Travelers Championship, AT&T National and The Greenbrier Classic).
Leishman, who won for the first time two weeks ago in Hartford, was all but guaranteed a spot with just over $1.15 million in earnings coming into this week -- and a $400,000-plus lead over second place.
The Aussie finished his week here at 4 over and near the bottom of the leaderboard.
Michael Thompson, who was second on that money list, did not play this week. He could still earn the second spot if no one on the leaderboard passes him.
Others near Thompson at the start of the week will not. John Merrick was just over $100,000 behind Merrick, but like Leishman he finished near the bottom of the leaderboard at even par for the week following a final-round 73.
Ditto Charley Hoffman, who ended the week 1 over, and Jhonattan Vegas, who missed the cut.
Another spot will go to the top finisher here (and at next week’s John Deere Classic) not otherwise eligible.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
CROMWELL, Conn. -- Finishing second in a U.S. Open can be hard to swallow -- just ask Phil Mickelson, who’s done it five times. It has its rewards, too.
“It secures my card for 2013; that’s a huge deal,” said Michael Thompson, whose runner-up finish last week at The Olympic Club was almost as life-changing as Webb Simpson’s victory. “My goal really this year was to get into all the Invitationals and maybe sneak into a WGC or a major. To be able to qualify for the U. S. Open, let alone for one of my favorite golf courses, was pretty special.”
So was the outcome.
Instead of worrying about his future, Thompson has a “free ride,” and can play when and where he wants to.
A year ago, Thompson barely snuck into the FedExCup Playoffs and lasted just one week. Now his goal is to get into the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, which opens the door to countless other riches.
“It doesn't mean I can slack off by any means,” said Thompson, who prior to last week had missed five cuts in 15 starts this season. “I'm going to have to work harder now in order to continue to be competitive, just because there's a lot more obligations of me, a lot more responsibility. It's all new. It's all great. Great problems to have, and I'm just going to enjoy the ride and see what I can do.”
That ride included closing out the U.S. Open the way he started it: With the best round of the day, a 67 to grab the early clubhouse lead while everyone else tried not to fall apart.
Only Simpson didn’t, and he won as a result while Thompson had to settle for second. Not that he sounded terribly disappointed.
“Mostly just I can't believe I'm that close to the lead at the U. S. Open,” Thompson said of his thoughts as he sat in the clubhouse at the end of last week. “I can't believe I shot 67 in the final round at the U. S. Open. I mean you can't dream of that stuff.”
Got a question for Michael Thompson? Send us your questions for Direct Connect — PGATOUR.COM’s video franchise that gets you closer to a PGA TOUR pro each week — and host John Swantek might use it when he chats this week with Thompson, who’s in the field at the Travelers Championship.
A year ago, Thompson shot a career-low 62 in the final round of the Travelers Championship to finish tied for fourth.
Direct Connect video will be posted each Wednesday afternoon on PGATOUR.COM.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
SAN FRANCISCO -- Michael Thompson entered the second round of the U.S. Open with a three-shot lead, thanks to his opening 4-under 66. That advantage quickly disappeared with a bogey and a double in his first four holes, but Thompson didn't vanish off the front page of the leaderboard.
Holding steady after the disastrous start, Thompson shot a 5-over 75 that leaves him at 1 over through 36 holes. He no longer is the leader, but he does still have a chance.
"Obviously 5 over's not the best, but I finished with a birdie and that's always good."
After starting his round off the ninth tee with a couple of pars before a bogey at the 11th, followed by a double bogey at the 12th. He also had a double at the 18th but played even par in his final eight holes.
"It's just one of those tournaments where playing with the lead really doesn't matter because you're going to go out and make bogeys and you're going to fall back and you're going to make birdies," said Thompson, a finalist at the 2008 U.S. Amateur held at the Olympic Club. "I felt like I hung in there."
SAN FRANCISCO -- Michael Thompson has a sense of deja vu this week at the 112th U.S. Open.
He and his wife Rachael are staying in a home on Lombard Street, otherwise known as the crookedest street in the world, with the same family that hosted him when he played in the 2007 U.S. Amateur. And like the U.S. Open which began today, that USGA event was contested at the Olympic Club.
Thompson is hoping for a better outcome than 2007, too. Not that a runner-up finish to Colt Knost was anything to be ashamed of -- but after a first-round 66 on Thursday, Thompson finds himself setting the pace, leading the best players in the world by three strokes when the morning wave finished.
Oh, and did we mention he beat Knost, one of his playing partners, by 11 strokes?
"Today was fun with Colt," Thompson said. "We talked about the U.S. Amateur and the changes with the golf course from then ‘til now. And just joking and just enjoying, I guess, each other's company. I know Colt's a strong competitor and he's going to fight back."
Of course, Thompson has enough to worry about with the likes of Tiger Woods and David Toms, both major champions, among the players lurking at 1 under. He teed off at the same time on the opposite nine from the marquee group of Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson, and he estimated his threesome's gallery at several hundred to 20,000 for the other trio.
“It was really relaxed out there,” Thompson said. “… It's nice, one, to play well in front of family and friends, but also just to hear them cheering and screaming and enjoying themselves, as well. It was just fun.
“The Tiger, Bubba, Phil thing, that's exciting. That's typical USGA, putting the big three together. I think it's great for golf. Hopefully one of these days in the future I'll be part of that group.
For now, though, Thompson is content. He came out with a U.S. Open mindset – “You've got to go in and expect to make bogeys and expect to make tough putts for par,” he said – and played his final 12 holes in 6 under to earn his spot at the top of the pack.
"Well, the way I look at it is I've always kind of flown under the radar," Thompson said. "Obviously my name's in the spotlight, but a lot of people don't know who I am. And I'm totally okay with that because I've always been a player that just kind of hangs around. I don't give up very easily and I'm very proud of that.
"Give Tiger the spotlight. I don't care. I'm going to go out and play my game. If I go out and putt the way I did today I'll be in contention."
Thompson, who has been in San Francisco since last Friday preparing for the U.S. Open, thinks that his familiarity with the Olympic Club works in his favor. The last time the U.S. Open was played here was in 1998 when Lee Janzen beat his good buddy Payne Stewart.
"There's a lot of guys out on TOUR - especially some of the
older guys -- (who) haven't seen the course since '98 and it's
very, very different from then," Thompson said. "And to be able to
have that experience, I almost played, I guess 11, rounds in nine
or ten days and you play a golf course, any golf course that many
times you're going to know where to hit it.
"I don't know, I just fed off those vibes. I hit a lot of good shots, made a lot of good putts that week, and obviously off to a great start this week."