Thompson feeling the hometown love
May 17, 2017
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Kyle Thompson is enjoying the familiarity of playing this week at a place he calls home. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Kyle Thompson is enjoying all the perks of staying at home this week, as the Thornblade Club, one of the three courses hosting the BMW Charity Pro Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation, is actually his home course. He lives five minutes away from the first tee.
However, that also includes doing a little bit of daycare for his three kids: Sophia (8), Sammy (5) and Riley (11 months).
Between his daughter’s birthday party last Friday, helping coach Sammy’s baseball team the next day (including being present at the year-end party after the game), it’s been a bit of a whirlwind week for Thompson, and the tournament hasn’t even started yet.
That said, he can’t wait to tee it up.
“It’s a fun week being at home, but in a way it’s challenging. I’ve got so many more distractions,” he admits. “But it’s OK, I wish every week was a home game.”
Thompson started off 2017 with a bang, capturing the wind-swept Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay and is currently fifth on The 25.
He finished runner up at the 2016 season opener, and didn’t think he’d be able to top that experience.
“I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would win the first event,” he says. “Everyone wants to win it, and I worked hard to be prepared for it, but when I got down there and it was blowing as hard as it was, and the way I started (Thompson was 6 over after his first nine holes) … I just knew that it was playing tough and I thought if I could scrape my way back into it somehow, which I did, I could steadily climb the leaderboard. I was the last man standing.”
Thompson points to his veteran poise as being a key to success that week.
“I think I made seven doubles for the week and I never got upset,” he says. “It was playing really tough and I was fortunate to finish the way I did. I plodded along and never once did I get upset. I would just laugh. If I hit a shot that turned out awful, I laughed, tried to get it up-and-down and then see what happened next.”
The University of South Carolina alum also has a fifth-place finish to his credit this season, but he knows the Web.com Tour year is a marathon. Luckily, his victory at the beginning of the year allowed him to pick-and-choose a schedule that works for him, and his family.
He admits the support he’s got from his wife, Emmi, and their three kids, has been invaluable as he continues to chase the ultimate dream of getting to the PGA TOUR full-time.
“I think it’s one of the hardest jobs to make a living at in the world,” he says of the grind of professional golf. “It’s glamorous if you’re at THE PLAYERS Championship, which I’m sitting here watching on television. But on the Web.com Tour it’s a little tough on families. We don’t have daycare, and the purses aren’t what they are on the PGA TOUR so it takes a lot of sacrifices.
“My wife is amazing and I’ve got three kids who are nothing but supportive. It’s impossible to do without that,” he continues. “I see guys who are struggling with that part of their lives and usually their golf struggles with it. I’m very fortunate to have it all in tune right now.”
Kevin Schreel, the Head Golf Professional at Thornblade, says Thompson is indeed a genuine family man, who is always willing to say ‘yes’ if he or the club asks him for a favor.
“He interacts with members all the time. In the spring he’ll play against two of our scratch players and he’ll play against their better-ball score as he prepares for the Tour,” says Schreel. “If you’re a member of Thornblade you probably know who Kyle is. Not because you’ve seen him on television or for what he’s done on the Tour but because, in general, you just know him. He’s very well liked around here.”
Schreel says Thompson brings his family around all the time, although, Thompson admits, his kids haven’t started to pick up golf quite yet – unless they can drive the cart. He recalls a time when Sammy, about a year ago, was at the golf course with his father but "pitched a fit" because he didn’t want to wear a shirt.
“I said, ‘you have to wear a shirt at the golf course’,” says Thompson with a big laugh, explaining the club and the membership have ‘been amazing’ to him and his family.
And that membership will be out in droves if Thompson starts climbing the leaderboard.
“A lot of our members were backing him when he won the Rex Hospital Open (in 2007), saying they knew he had what it takes. There would be tremendous support if he goes out and is in the lead come Sunday. There would be a lot of members following that group,” says Schreel.
Although Thompson has gotten off to a good start this year, he’s still a bit of an underdog in the grand scheme of golf. As in, he’s not a young stud out of college. He’s a 38-year-old father of three who has seen almost everything there is to see in professional golf, with a rare glimpse of the PGA TOUR Promised Land. He’s more than ready to get back to that stage, and perhaps there is a bit of inspiration from his alma mater, the underdog story of the NCAA Basketball championship this year.
“I followed that team throughout the season and I knew they had potential for something like that, but I never thought that they would actually do it,” says Thompson of the No. 7-ranked USC Gamecocks, who made it all the way to the National Championship semifinal game. “They finally started to believe in themselves, and it was just amazing.”
Thompson, meanwhile, has always believed in himself, with a tight-knit family support system to boot.
He’s had great results so far in 2017, and he knows what he needs to do to get across the finish line.
“My main focus is just to keep focused. All I want to do is keep playing well,” he says. “I’ve been out here about 15 times on this Tour. I know the importance of not letting up. I know what I have to do and I know that you have to just keep working hard… and that’s what I’m going to do the rest of the season.”