by Jeff Skinner
The week at The Honda Classic started with such great promise. A solid field full of big name stars on a respected course with Jack and Barbara Nicklaus pulling hosting duties for their adopted hometown. The Honda Classic’s reputation has grown into one of the top tier events since Jack redid PGA National and “The Bear Trap” has almost taken on legendary status. It’s not quite Amen Corner but then what is?
Memories of Rory’s victory as Tiger hunted him down last year had many wishing for a Rory vs. Tiger repeat. But in a most shocking turn of events, Rory took an early walk, literally and Tiger was stuck in his own version of That 70’s Show as he posted rounds of 70-70-70-74. But with the two top headliners in the game out of contention there were still plenty of big names left to claim the Honda Classic trophy.
But this is the PGA Tour where each week someone could win golf’s version of the lottery and become a millionaire. Enter Michael Thompson who worked his way around the course to a winning total of 271, 9 under par and a two stroke victory.
Thompson is a third year PGA professional whose previous best finish was a T2 at last year’s U.S. Open. Even with Rory’s early exit and Tiger’s lackluster play Thompson topped a leader board full of heavyweights.
Five major winners finished T9 or better and Justin Rose (T4) and Lee Westwood (T9) are ranked 6th and 9th in the Official World Golf Rankings. Thompson did himself proud with a final round 69 on a tough and breezy day at Palm Beach Gardens as former U.S. Open winner Geoff Ogilvy birdied two of the last three holes to pull within a stroke of the lead. Thompson finished like a real champion with a birdie at the last to earn his million bucks, two year PGA exemption and a return to Augusta National.