Michael Thompson is ready to write a more uplifting second chapter to his Masters Tournament career. He’s currently known as the amateur who called a penalty shot on himself on the way to missing the cut in 2008.
“I’m just looking forward to re-familiarizing myself with the golf course and getting a second chance,” he said.
The 2013 Honda Classic champion is a different player than he was in his previous Masters appearance, and he’s ready to show that.
“I think my game has gotten a lot better since turning professional and has come a long way since 2008,” the former Tulane and Alabama golfer said. “I felt like I played well as an amateur – obviously I was really nervous and excited to be there. Now it’s going to be not more businesslike; I’m just going to be more prepared.”
In the 2008 Masters, Thompson was a 22-year-old college student who qualified by being U.S. Amateur runner-up in 2007.
“That was my first real PGA Tour event, so to speak, professional event, that I got to play in,” Thompson said. “What a special one that was.”
It ended after two rounds. In the second round, he called a penalty on himself when his ball moved slightly as he addressed a 15-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole. He ended up missing the putt, so with the penalty, he made bogey. That was followed by bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17. Thompson ended up shooting 78 that day and missed the cut by four shots.
The penalty shot “really turned my round, turned the momentum against me,” Thompson said. “It was very unfortunate, but I’m sure it’s happened many times before there. It’s just something that happened. You can’t get away from it, and it’s just unfortunate.”
Thompson, now in his third year on the PGA Tour, qualified through two avenues for the 2013 Masters.
First, he finished in a tie for second in the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club. Then, in early March, he won his first PGA Tour event, the Honda Classic. He shot three rounds in the 60s at the tough PGA National and held off Geoff Ogilvy for a two-shot victory.
As is his style, Thompson missed a number of greens in regulation but was bailed out by his putter.
“I’ve struggled with this all my career, that I just need to continue to believe in what I do and the way I play golf,” he said. “It’s not pretty. My swing is not the most beautiful swing in the world. I hit it all over the place. But I’m a darned good putter, and that’s the one thing I really do believe in myself. It’s a matter of just going back to what I believe and what has got me to this point.”
Though Thompson’s swing might not be a thing of beauty, there’s never been a problem with his putting.
“I think it’s just natural; just trusting my instincts,” he said. “My only goal with putting is to get the ball started on the line I see. I think that’s something I perfected within my ability. … I’ve just been blessed with a good putting stroke.”
That’s why he can’t wait to get back on the Augusta National greens.
“I think that (being a great putter) gives me a huge advantage, knowing I can make putts out there,” he said. “I’m able to two-putt from some of the crazy spots on those greens.”
Michael Thompson will speak at the Augusta Golf Breakfast, a Masters Week tradition put on by the Greater Augusta Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
The free event begins at 7 a.m. Tuesday at Warren Baptist Church, 3203 Washington Road.
Print free tickets for the breakfast at greateraugustafca.org.