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.”