Michael Thompson defeated Australian Geoff Ogilvy by two shots to clinch his first career victory on TOUR at The Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. American rookie Luke Guthrie rounded out the podium two further shots back. Thompson secured his victory by firing one-under-par 69 on Sunday to post a winning score of nine-under 271. With this victory, Thompson earns $1,080,000 and 500 FedExCup points plus a two-year exemption on TOUR. This victory also vaulted him into the OWGR top 50 and this puts him in the field next week at the World Golf Championships Cadillac Championship at Doral.
Heading into this week you probably only have heard about Thompson from his T2 finish last year at the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club after he fired a final round 67. After that tournament, Thompson proceeded to miss the cut in five of his next seven events before finishing the year T13 at the Timerblake and T10 at the McGladrey. In 25 events last year, Thompson made 15 cuts and had seven top 25s so heading into this year, his third year on TOUR, there was upside.
This season, he had missed the cut in three of four events and his best finish was T78 at the Farmers Insurance Open in late January. In 10 rounds this season, he’d broken 70 exactly one time before posting all four rounds this week at 70 or better. Want more? The last time out he MC at Riviera by firing an 80 on Friday after 78 on Thursday. He ranked 170th in GIR and driving accuracy. He was 160th in strokes gained-putting. He was 167th in scoring average. He was 177th in birdie average. He had exactly ONE FedExCup point. Last year, Thompson played three of four rounds here over par as he finished T47.
Well, this is why you play the game. Thompson, as listed above, has shown that he can play a little bit but to have had him projected this week was nothing short of blind luck. There was nothing on the cards that suggested this was coming. There was also nothing to suggest that he could hold off major champion Geoff Ogilvy or highly-ranked players such as Lee Westwood, Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler to claim his first victory on that course with that wind blowing. Thompson conquered “The Bear Trap”, the wind, the course and his nerves for a hard-fought W.
Moving forward, Thompson will be playing next week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, the 2013 Masters, the 2013 U.S. Open, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the 2013 PGA Championship. With those paydays (and possible paydays at the majors) on the horizon, season-long gamers were rewarded this week and can reap more rewards as the season continues. Thompson is known for his putting prowess and short game over his ball-striking so remember that in your weekly leagues moving forward.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
Thompson breaks the streak of international winners at The Honda Classic at five.
He keeps the streak of American winners on TOUR this year going. Yanks have now won nine-out-of-nine tournaments to kick of 2013.
In six of the eight stroke play events in 2013, the 54-hole leader has gone on to post the victory. Thompson joins that club as well as he was the co-leader with Luke Guthrie heading into Sunday.
In nine events, there have been three first-time winners. Michael Thompson joins Russell Henley (Sony Open) and John Merrick (Northern Trust Open) in this club.
He joins Mark Wilson (2007) and Y.E. Yang (2009) as players who have achieved their first TOUR victory at The Honda Classic. Three of the last seven winners have made this their first victory. That’s a weird stat because of how difficult this course plays.
The nine winners on TOUR have been Johnson (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods (37), Mickelson (42), Snedeker (32), Merrick (30) Kuchar (34) and Thompson, M (27). The young folks are trying to catch up with the 30-somethings and the “old folks” are stuck on one win. Lee Westwood, who turns 40 in April, was trying to fly the flag for the “old folks” but his water ball on 18 wrapped up a 74 on Sunday to finish T9. Speaking of Westwood, he was my choice for the one-and-done and was T4 with a par-five to close and a chance to maybe steal T3. SPLASH!
Here’s the top 10 and we learned about them:
Geoff Ogilvy: After missing four cuts in a row with ZERO rounds in the 60s, Ogilvy found “something” this week as he posted four rounds of 70 or better, including three in the 60s. Go figure. He had exactly one top 10 last year, T9 at The Open Championship so I’m not sure who saw this coming. Ogilvy was one of five players to break par on this blustery Sunday and only made one bogey. He had never played The Honda Classic on this course but he now has THREE second place finishes in this event. He likes playing golf in southeast Florida. His solo second will move him into the top 50 in the OWGR and gets him in the field next week at Doral.
Luke Guthrie: He jumped on the scene last summer after he graduated from Illinois and began his career on TOUR with T19 at FESJC in Memphis. In three rounds last summer, he finished T19, T5 (John Deere) and T18 (True South) so there was little doubt about his ability. He backed up that early play by DESTROYING the Web.com Tour. He played 10 events and made eight cuts, winning twice and adding a second and a third. He had seven top 10s in those eight events. #Legit. His only blemish last year in four events on TOUR was MC at the Frys.com. This year, he’s now made five of seven cuts, and has hit the top 27 in all five starts. His solo third will help him get closer to securing his card for 2014. He showed this week he belongs.
David Lynn: Like Guthrie, Lynn is also a “rookie” on TOUR this year as the Englishman parlayed his solo second at the 2012 PGA Championship into full-time status in 2013. His best finish of the season was T34 at the Farmers Insurance Open in five events. It was also his first time playing here so it makes sense that he finished T4 as well. He was the only player to play both weekend rounds in the 60s. That’s solid. If you would have asked me if Lynn or Colsaerts would have had the first top ten this year, I think you would and I both would have said “Colsaerts”. Time to pay attention to Lynn. Oh, and follow him on Twitter. He’s absolutely crackers (@davelynndawg).
Lucas Glover: After being injured last year, Glover has been getting closer to returning to form as 2013 moves into March. He’s now made the in four of five starts but his T4 in his best result since his victory at the 2011 Wells Fargo Championship. In 16 events last year Glover’s best finish was T46 at the Memorial. I didn’t have him on my radar this week but am now encouraged about his game getting back together.
Erik Compton: Born and raised just down the street in Miami, Compton’s T4 is his best-ever TOUR finish in 61 career events. His heart troubles have been well documented but his game might finally end up being “the story” in 2013. He’s finished T31 at Sony, T15 at Farmers Insurance and now T4 this week. Of these six golfers I have now summarized, how many were on your list this week? Right, zero.
Keegan Bradley: After revealing that he had been the target of abuse by fans because of his uses of the long putter, Bradley looked to be relieved to get that off his chest. He played his best golf of the season near his Jupiter home in front of his friends and family as he banged his second T4 of 2013. He’s made the cut in six of seven events and it was no surprise that he would play well on a tough, par-70 course this week. His bogey-free round on Thursday shows that he’s close to getting back to the winner’s circle. He’s now finished T4 (2013) and T12 in his last two starts at PGA National.
Justin Rose: The last three results for him at this event are solo third (2010), T5 (2011) and T4 this year. You were rewarded for playing the chalk. He’ll be ready to defend next week at Doral as any questions about being lightly raced to start 2013 are now gone.
Charl Schwartzel: Speaking of chalk, Schwartzel now adds T9 to T5 (2012) and T14 in 2011 in his only three starts here. His game is completely solid and his 2013 season, with the exception of Match Play, has carried over from his late-season form of 2012 as he’s added this T9 to his T3 finish at Riviera. He will be among my favorites for next week.
Graeme McDowell: After missing the cut at Riviera, “G-Mac” picked himself up and ground out a quarterfinal place at the WGC-Match Play before tallying a T9 this week. He adds that to T9 last year, T6 in 2011 and T31 in 2010. Ink pen for 2014 at this event.
Graham DeLaet: Of the 12 players in the top 10, five of them came from countries other than the U.S. of A. Very cosmopolitan! DeLaet hits the top 10 (T9) for the second time this year (Farmers Insurance Open) as he was headed for even a higher finish before DOUBLE bogeys on Nos. 14 and 15 eliminated any chance of victory. He only had three top 10s all of last year so it looks like he’s in a pretty good place right now. If you’re not sure which one DeLaet is, just look for the LOUDEST pants on the course inside the ropes. Those things made Poulter’s wardrobe look downright stuffy.
Lee Westwood: Speaking of chances of victory going down the drain, Westwood began the day just two shots behind and after a birdie on No. 3 was all alone in second. He bogeyed five of the next 15 holes while not adding any birdies to finish T9. His 3-iron into No. 18 found the water and cost him and everyone playing him T4 money so that was tough to swallow. I love Westwood’s ball-striking but it’s his lack of winning that always trips me up at the end. He was my one-and-done selection this week.
“Hey, what ever happened to…”
I take a look back at what happened to the chalk
Rory McIlroy: The concerns are obviously now legitimate as the No. 1 player in the world has not broken 70 this season nor has he made a cut. He won’t have to worry about that next week at Doral as there is no cut. After Doral, he’ll have his wisdom teeth pulled and who knows where he goes after that. Not on my list!
Tiger Woods: After opening with two consecutive rounds of 70, Woods never got anything going on Saturday or Sunday as he faded on the weekend firing 70-74 to finish T37. The Champion course now joins TPC Sawgrass and Riviera as the courses where Woods has made the most tournament double-bogeys. This was very similar to last year minus the Sunday 62.
Freddie Jacobson: “The Junkman” was on everyone’s list this week due to his current form and course history at PGA National. His T25 now makes him five for his last five with all five being T29 or better, including two top 10s. He likes this place!
Louis Oosthuizen: After an opening round 69, the world’s No. 5 player opened double-double on Friday and couldn’t recover to miss the cut. Just for good measure, he also made ANOTHER double six holes later to remove all doubt. At least he didn’t WD from the tournament for the third consecutive year!
Dustin Johnson: His 66 on Thursday was a positive as he tied his 2013 low-round that he posted in his victory at HTOC in January. Known as a “weather player”, Johnson didn’t take advantage of the breezy conditions on the weekend and finished T46. This was a step in the right direction but he’s clearly not turned it around yet. Maybe his lessons with Claude Harmon will come to fruition next week at Doral. Maybe. Stay tuned.
Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a live chat Wednesday at NOON ET at Rotoworld.com. We will be breaking down the fields at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and the Puerto Rico Open and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter.