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Thompson Pulls off First Win at Honda Classic
Michael Thompson kept his composure on Sunday in the Honda Classic, closing with a 1-under 69 to earn his first title on the PGA Tour. The 27-year-old from Arizona, who attended college at first Tulane and then the University of Alabama, finished at 9-under 271 to win the $6 million event by two strokes over Australia's Geoff Ogilvy.
Thompson began the final round tied for the lead with Tour rookie Luke Guthrie, who was also seeking his first Tour victory. But the day belonged to Thompson at the difficult Champion Course at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
He took the outright lead with an eagle on the par-5 third hole and, despite three bogeys and two birdies for a 1-under 34 on the front nine, played steadily the rest of the way, shooting an even-par 35 on the home half.
At greenside, Thompson said of his performance, "I wanted to just stick to a game plan just like I've been saying all week. . . which was to 'find it in the dirt,' as all Tour players do. This week was magical, just find a groove, keep believing . . . all in all, a great experience."
Thompson later told reporters, "This is everything, this is a childhood dream come true. I dreamed of playing here since I was 7 years old and to win, it's just unbelievable. I just can't put it into words. The whole day was awesome. My ball-striking was way better today than it was yesterday."
Thompson earned $1.026 million and 500 FedEx Cup points, which moves him to 11th in the standings. He also became the ninth American to win on Tour this year.
Ogilvy, a seven-time Tour winner and the 2006 U.S. Open champion, posted a 69 for solo second, while Guthrie, a 23-year-old former All-American at Illinois who qualified for the PGA Tour after racking up two wins last year on the Web.com Tour, had a 3-over 73 to end up in third, the highest finish of his brief career.
For his solo second, Ogilvy qualifies for next week's WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral. He's also close to earning a spot in the Masters in April. "It gets me back in the mix for the Masters, because I'm not in yet," Ogilvy told reporters of his runner-up finish.
"Obviously I would have loved to have won here and sealed that but at least I've gone in the right direction, made a decent jump in the world ranking. And if I can play well at a course next week that I've played well at before, hopefully I can make more of a move up and get back to Augusta."
Five players - England's David Lynn (69) and Justin Rose (71), and Americans Lucas Glover (70), Erik Compton (70) and Keegan Bradley (71) - shared fourth at 3-under 277. Another stroke back were South Africa's Charl Schwartzel (69), Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell (70), Canada's Graham DeLaet (72) and England's Lee Wetswood (74).
McDowell, who shared second place at last year's U.S. Open with Thompson behind champion Webb Simpson, wasn't surprised that Thompson pulled off the win. "Players are coming out, young guys are coming out more and more ready for the Tour than years gone by," McDowell told PGATour.com.
"Whether that's something to do with the quality of amateur golf, the quality of college golf, something, but the guys are coming out more and more ready. Great to see (that) around a golf course this difficult."
After opening with three straight even-par 70s, Tiger Woods closed with a 74 to end up tied for 37th at 4-over 274. Woods finished second last year to Honda Classic winner, Rory McIlroy, who withdrew midway through the second round.
Despite his Sunday travails, Woods - currently No. 2 behind McIlroy in the world golf ranking - kept his sense of humor. "I passed 62 somewhere on 12," Woods he told PGATour.com. "I just made too many penalties this week," he added. "Today is a perfect example. I didn't play that poorly. I had two water balls and a lost ball. Take those away, and I missed two short birdie putts, and it was actually a decent score."
The Champion course played tough all week. That was no clearer than on Sunday, when only five players broke par. England's Matt Jones carded the low final round, a 2-under 68. Additionally, only 17 players finished under par through 72 holes.
For all the scores, visit http://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html.