Thompson relishes role as TOUR's oldest rookie
January 08, 2019
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Inside the PGA TOUR
42-year-old Chris Thompson debuts on PGA TOUR
HONOLULU, Hawaii — Chris Thompson faced the first sit down pre-tournament interview of his PGA TOUR career at the Sony Open in Hawaii this week, and opened by forgetting to pin the microphone to his shirt.
“Rookie mistake,” he laughed.
Thompson is indeed a rookie this season on the PGA TOUR, but he’s no ordinary greenhorn.
At 42, his journey to the PGA TOUR has been a long drawn out affair.
From appearances on mini tours, 18 Q-School visits, conditional seasons on the Web.com Tour and countless attempts at Monday qualifying, he’s more than paid his dues.
But the Kansas native finally punched his ticket to the TOUR when he clawed his way to a 20th place finish on the Web.com Tour regular season money list last season, thanks to a late run where he finished T3-T4-3 in consecutive weeks.
“It was some relief but obviously a lot of joy,” Thompson said. “I've been trying for a long time to do this. There wasn't one emotion. It was a mix of a lot. But it was a pretty stressful time. I'm 42. I wasn't probably going to get a better opportunity than I had towards the end of last year. Those are some pretty stressful rounds.”
The journey was long, so now he doesn’t want the stay to be fleeting.
Thompson has had three starts already, missing two cuts to go with a T45 at the Sanderson Farms Championship.
While he wants to enjoy every moment, he is mindful of having a job to do.
“It's pretty cool, but you're also here to do a job,” Thompson said. “I don't know how many opportunities I'm going to get at this. That being said, I'm still going to enjoy the heck out of this. I've worked pretty hard to get here. Everybody says it's good, and then when you get here it's even better.”
The obvious question still remains, though. Did he ever think about giving up the dream? Thompson does have two kids after all. Did it come to a point where a new path was on the horizon?
Thompson was given a few opportunities within the golfing industry that he never pursued. He enjoys coaching his son’s basketball team. He has run a short game camp at times.
But he claims he never got to the point of sending out resumes.
“My wife and I assessed it at the end of every year. Do we shut it down and do something else or do we keep going?” Thompson explained. “She's always leaned on the side of keep going. I was probably that way, too, but there were a couple years we had to make a tough decision. I'm glad we stuck it out. This is pretty cool for me.”
What advice would he give someone in a similar situation? Is he the new poster boy for never giving up?
“You have to be all in it,” he said. “You can't go halfway. The people what that are around you, they have to be all in, too.
“The competition is too good. You can't be a pro at a club or have another job and do this on the side. You need to be fully invested.”
As the game continues to get younger and longer, Thompson believes he can still compete.
In his limited sample size, Thompson ranks 149th in driving distance at 286.3 yards, but pointed out they don’t hand out trophies on TOUR for the longest drive.
“Age is important, and I'm probably not going to get any fitter or any better, but I still know how to play,” he said. “I feel like I can get it around. I don't feel like I'm one of the shorter hitters, but definitely not one of the longer ones either. “You got to get the ball in the hole, and there are a lot of different ways to do that. Putting a score down is probably my biggest strength, the ability to score and shoot the best score you can on any given day.”