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October 14 2011

6:19 PM

Thompson’s return well worth the wait

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Michael Thompson has posted a pair of 65s that have him leading the way at Sea Island.
By Chris Dunham, PGATOUR.COM ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- Michael Thompson has been looking forward to this event for some time. A year before he won medalist honors in the SEC Championships at Frederica (also in St. Simons Island), the Alabama graduate finished fourth individually at Sea Island’s Seaside Course as his team finished No. 2 to Tennessee. After back-to-back 65s on the same course, Thompson finds himself atop the McGladrey Classic’s Friday afternoon leaderboard. “I’ve had some competitive success here on this golf course,” Thompson said. “So getting to come back and play another tournament here, I’ve been looking forward to this for a while.” With winds picking up on the back nine at Sea Island, Thompson estimated that it was blowing more than twice as hard as yesterday, the Tuscon, Ariz. native opened with two bogeys on his first four holes. Instead of folding after his first two bogeys of the week, Thompson buckeled down with a birdie on No. 14 and an eagle on No. 15 to get into red numbers for the day. “That really jump started my round,” Thompson said. “From then on, I played really solid, gave myself a lot of opportunities, just playing real steady. I hit some good shots on the front nine …” He added four more birdies, keeping his card clean the rest of the way, to make his way to the clubhouse at 10 under. Being at or near the top of the leaderboard isn’t nothing new for the TOUR rookie. Thompson had a share of the 36-hole lead at the RBC Canadian Open and was three off the pace at the midway point of the Reno-Tahoe Open before finishing T34 and T50 in those events. Thompson talked about players’ habit of being hyper-sensitive to all distractions when playing with the lead, and the need to block things out to maintain his position and secure his TOUR card for 2012. “So I'm really going to try to ignore everything going on around me and my caddie and just stay with our process and enjoy it,” he said. “Getting to play on the weekend coming down the when I'm on the verge of keeping my card, or right on the bubble, that's exciting. As long as I stay in my process, I think I'll be fine. If I can shoot 5 under in this kind of wind today, there's no reason why I can't do it again.” A third-consecutive 65 at Sea Island would likely give the 2010 q-school graduate and Hooters Tour Player of the Year a spot in Sunday’s final pairing with a PGA TOUR victory within reach.
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