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Thompson Wins 22nd Senior PGA Professional National Championship


Robert Thompson discovered that good things come to those who wait. The teaching professional at Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity, Texas, played steadily throughout to capture the 22nd Senior PGA Professional National Championship.

The 53-year-old resident of Huntsville rallied from a one-stroke deficit with birdies on both par-5s on the back nine of the 6,978-yard Jack Nicklaus Signature South Course at Toscana Country Club, turning in a 1-under-par 71 for a two-stroke victory.

Thompson finished with a 72-hole total of 8-under-par 280, earning $20,000 from a purse of $285,000 and became the second player in PGA of America history to win a PGA Assistant Championship (1986) and a Senior PGA Professional National Championship.

"It's been a long time since that first title, but I can say the feeling is just as good," said Thompson, enjoying the fruit of his third Championship appearance. "It was great playing here among a great field."

James Blair of Ogden, Utah, and Mark Faulkner of Marion, Ill., each posted a 70 to share second place at 282. Third-round co-leader Mike Lawrence of Easley, S.C., who shared the lead with Thompson until the 16th hole when he failed to get out of a greenside bunker, struggled to a 75 and finished tied for fourth with Ken Martin of Wellington, Fla., at 283.

Slowed by tendonitis in his left elbow and a sore shoulder most of the summer, Thompson said he took one cortisone shot nearly four months ago that gave him a chance to return to practice.

"I didn't overwork myself, went on to win the [Southern Texas PGA] Senior Section Championship in July and finished fourth in the Section Championship in September," he said. "I felt that I could come out to California and play well. I like the course, and I feel that I'm a good enough iron player to be able to play this course."

Toscana Country Club proved more than a worthy test for the 73 players who played the weekend, yielding a 75.15 scoring average - more than a stroke higher than the third round.

"It was tough," said Thompson. "There were a lot of tough pins out there today. What got me back in it was a birdie at 10. I hit it to 12 feet and made it. That really turned it around for me."

It was a long, frustrating day for Lawrence, who made his fifth Championship appearance. He saw his title chances fade when he his approach shot on the 408-yard par-16th hole plugged into a greenside bunker and he could not get his next shot out of the sand.

"We got behind, and I let it bother me," said Lawrence. "I plugged my approach and I thought I had hit a really good shot."

Lawrence had shared the third-round lead with playing partner Gene Fieger of Naples, Fla. They were deadlocked for the lead through 11 holes, before Fieger posted a disastrous triple bogey 6 at the par-3 12th that derailed his round. He finished with a 78 to tie for 15th at 286.

Blair and Faulkner finished more than a half hour ahead of Thompson, waiting in a golf car to see if there would be any hope of a playoff. "I'm pleased that I finished where I did," said Blair, a PGA Life Member. "It was tough to get the ball close today. There were not many birdie chances out there. Robert is a fine player and tough to beat."

Faulkner, making his Championship debut, hit 15 greens to go with four birdies, but had only one costly blemish - a double bogey at the par-3 12th hole after his tee shot found the water. "It was a big field, and to make the cut was a feat in itself," said Faulkner. "There were a lot of good players here, a good test and I'm pretty pleased with how things turned out overall."

Defending Champion Bill Britton of Rumson, N.J., shot a final round 73, and led a group of six players at 284. Britton was happy with his play but admits he still has some work to do before the Senior PGA Championship in May. "I did a lot of good things this week but made a few mistakes which cost me big time," said Britton. "I am looking forward to being back in the Senior PGA Championship."

The low 35 finishers in the 22nd Senior PGA Professional National Championship qualified for the 2011 Senior PGA Championship, May 25-29, at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. Jim Woodward of Oklahoma City, Okla., nabbed the final spot with a par on the third playoff hole. A total of five players were competing for one spot.

Final-Round Results

Top 35

Robert Thompson, Huntsville, Texas, $20,000 69-71-69-71--280 James Blair, Ogden, Utah, $14,375 67-71-74-70--282
Mark Faulkner, Marion, Ill., $14,375 67-69-76-70--282
Ken Martin, Wellington, Fla., $10,050 74-69-70-70--283
Mike Lawrence, Easley, S.C., $10,050 69-67-72-75--283
Butch Sheehan, Rancho Mirage, Calif, $6,300 69-71-72-72--284
Stu Ingraham, Harrisburg, Pa., $6,300 72-72-68-72--284
Sonny Skinner, Sylvester, Ga., $6,300 69-71-71-73--284
William Britton, Colts Neck, N.J., $6,300 68-71-72-73--284
Ed Sabo, Tequesta, Fla., $6,300 68-70-72-74--284
Tim Parun, San Diego, Calif., $6,300 71-69-70-74--284
Chris Campbell, Vero Beach, Fla., $4,500 73-70-70-72--285
Jim Karr, Palm Beach, Fla., $4,500 69-67-74-75--285
Mike San Filippo, Hobe Sound, Fla., $4,500 70-71-69-75--285
Tom Herzan, Findlay, Ohio, $3,875 71-70-73-72--286
Gene Fieger, Naples, Fla., $3,875 68-71-69-78--286
Bill Dodd, Phoenix, Ariz., $3,287.50 71-69-73-74--287
Dan Hornig, San Jacinto, Calif., $3,287.50 73-70-70-74--287
Gary Sowinski, San Diego, Calif., $3,287.50 68-73-70-76--287
Perry Arthur, Plano, Texas, $3,287.50 70-69-70-78--287
Jim Sobb, Barrington, Ill., $2,703.58 74-68-74-72--288
George Forster, Villanova, Pa., $2,703.57 70-71-74-73--288
Jon Fiedler, Camarillo, Calif., $2,703.57 70-72-73-73--288
Tim White, Midlothian, Va., $2,703.57 70-69-75-74--288
Jim White, Lincoln, Neb., $2,703.57 73-68-72-75--288
Tom Atchison, Silver Lake, Ohio, $2,703.57 72-72-75-69--288
Dan Wilkins, Laconia, N.H., $2,703.57 72-69-70-77--288
Jeff Roth, Farmington, N.M., $2,200 74-70-71-74--289
Tom Sutter, New York, N.Y., $2,200 74-69-74-72--289
Darrell Kestner, Glen Cove, N.Y., $2,200 68-74-73-74--289
Mitch Camp, Aurora, Ohio, $2,200 75-69-73-72--289
Mike Diffley, Pelham Manor, N.Y., $2,200 70-69-75-75--289
Brian Kelly, Lewisburg, Pa., $2,200 71-71-76-71--289
Dave Arbuckle, Colorado Springs, Co, $2,200 71-70-71-77--289
Jim Woodward, Oklahoma City, Okla., $1,900 70-72-74-74-290

Rest of the Field

Matt Seitz, Hutchinson, Kan., $1,900 72-71-73-74--290
Jerry Tucker, Stuart, Fla., $1,900 73-71-73-73--290
Dave Kendall, Saline, Mich., $1,900 73-68-77-72--290
Mark Keating, Warrenton, Ore., $1,900 70-74-74-72--290
Roy Vucinich, Moon Township, Pa., $1,650 73-69-75-74--291

Tom Dawson, Plant City, Fla., $1,650 71-73-73-74--291
Mike Barge, Chanhassen, Minn., $1,650 69-72-73-77--291
Perry Holmes, Boulder, Colo., $1,650 73-68-73-77--291
John Aubrey, Butler, Pa., $1,650 70-72-72-77--291
Michael Cook, Sonora, Calif., $1,500 71-71-76-74--292
James Kane, Edmond, Okla., $1,310 71-72-73-77--293
Gary Trivisonno, Aurora, Ohio, $1,310 77-67-72-77--293
Cliff Bailey, Destin, Fla., $1,310 76-66-75-76--293
Edward Humenik, Palm City, Fla., $1,310 69-73-75-76--293
Ken Mcdonald, Houston, Texas, $1,310 72-69-78-74--293
Jon Stanley, Phoenix, Ariz., $1,310 73-70-77-73--293
Jeff Coston, Blaine, Wash., $1,310 72-70-70-81--293
Chris Dachisen, Warren, N.J., $1,310 71-73-77-72--293
Tom Carey, Hillsboro, Ore., $1,190 69-74-75-76--294
Ron Vlosich, Lakewood, Colo., $1,190 71-70-77-76--294
Chris Endres, Anthem, Ariz., $1,190 75-68-76-75--294
Chris Mitchell, Portland, Ore., $1,130 71-71-73-80--295
Michael Zaremba, Pueblo West, Colo., $1,130 75-67-73-80--295
Jim Ahern, Phoenix, Ariz., $1,130 70-72-76-77--295
Mark Gardner, Spokane, Wash., $1,130 74-69-77-75--295
Billy Rosinia, Indianhead Park, Ill, $1,130 67-75-79-74--295
Lindy Miller, Fort Worth, Texas, $1,090 69-72-74-81--296
Pat Delaney, Springfield, Ohio, $1,080 70-72-79-76--297
Gary Robison, Canton, Ohio, $1,070 71-73-76-78--298
Jerry Herrera, Monrovia, Calif., $1,045 71-71-78-79--299
Rick Bronson, Mexico, N.Y., $1,045 74-69-77-79--299
Clem King, Lexington, S.C., $1,045 73-71-76-79--299
Bill Sautter, Warrington, Pa., $1,045 71-71-80-77--299
Quinn Griffing, Fort Wayne, Ind., $1,020 73-70-74-83--300
Scott Bess, Columbia, Mo., $1,010 70-72-82-79--303
Brent Murray, Lake Oswego, Ore., $995 71-73-80-80--304
Eddie Mudd, Louisville, Ky., $995 68-74-84-78--304
Bob Bilbo, Olney, Md., $980 71-73-80-84--308

The above report is courtesy of the PGA of America (www.pga.com).