Thompson Ties for 11th at Q School

Thompson Ties for 11th at Q School

17 December, 2014

Curtis Thompson showed this week that his decision to pursue a career as a professional golfer was the right one.

Thompson, 22, of Coral Springs, fired a 4-under-par 67 Tuesday on the Champion Course at PGA National Resort & Spa to finish in a tie for 11th at the Tour Qualifying Tournament. That earned him a fair amount of priority to play the tournament trail that is a steppingstone to the PGA Tour.

Along with his other rounds of 72-70-68-71-68 — all of them par or better — on the Fazio and Champion courses, that gave him a 13-under-par total of 416.
Canadian Brad Fritsch, who now lives in North Carolina, won the tournament known as Q School by seven shots over Andrew Landry of Austin, Texas, with a 27-under-par total of 402.

“I was just going for pars,” said Thompson of Tuesday’s round on the course that is home to the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic.

Starting the day tied for 23rd, Thompson had two birdies on the front nine and a bogey and three birdies on the back nine.

His last birdie came on the par-5 18th hole, where he bombed a 350-yard drive almost into the water along the right side of the hole, then knocked his second shot between two palm trees to just off the front edge of the green. From there he chipped to within 18 inches and tapped in, drawing cheers from his family, including his mother, Judy, older brother Nicholas, who is a PGA Tour pro, and younger sister Lexi, who won her first major this year on the LPGA Tour. Thompson’s caddie was his father, Scott.

“It’s amazing,” Lexi said. “He played really well, especially today on a tough course. I’m so proud of him. He’s been working so hard, he deserves this.”

“He played a really nice final two rounds,” Nicholas said. “He’s so talented, it’s scary.”

Asked if they offered any tips for their brother, Lexi said she provided support “just being there for him … He’s always been there for me.”

“I discussed strategy with his caddie,” said Nicholas, who lives in Palm Beach Gardens and played the Honda this year.

At the time, that birdie on 18 put Thompson in a tie for ninth place. As the rest of the top half of the 148-player field finished, Thompson, Justin Peters of Stuart and Andy Winings of Indiana were pushed into a tie for 10th, which would have earned them $15,000 and about a dozen starts on the Tour.

But Matt Fast birdied the 17th hole to join them at 13 under. He then “killed a drive” on 18, hit a 220-yard 4-iron to the front of the green and two-putted for birdie to finish in a three-way tie for eighth at 14 under and bump Thompson, Peters and Vining into 11th.

“I knew exactly the situation,” said Peters, who 40 minutes earlier had two-putted 18 for birdie, then watched from behind the 18th green as Fast rolled his long eagle putt to within 2 feet of the hole. “I wanted to run out there and bribe him, give him $500 to make a par.”

“It was too close to miss,” said Fast, of Jackson, Miss., who finished 93rd on the Tour this year.

The 11th-place finish earned Thompson $10,000, and it also means that he will have enough priority to be able to play in about eight Tour events at the start of the 2015 season.

If he does well in those tournaments, he will earn enough money to move up in the rankings when the standings are shuffled.

The top 25 players when the four-tournament Finals begin earn PGA Tour cards. The top 25 money winners during the Finals who are not already qualified also move on to the PGA Tour.

Thompson was going to wait to turn pro until after he graduated this coming spring from LSU.

“The school is great,” said Thompson.

Although he was the No. 2 player on the golf team, Thompson said he “ran into some roadblocks” with his college coach and he wasn’t enjoying himself, so he started at the bottom rung of qualifying in September. A total of about 1,200 players tried to qualify for the tour, and Thompson proved he was one of the best.

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