Saturday, January 29, 2011

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

By Randy Roberts

The third round of the Famer's Insurance Open was a day of ups and downs for Michael Thompson.

Things got interesting early. After hitting his tee shot on the first hole into the right bunker, an awkward lie resulted in his second shot flying over the green and down the hill behind it. He then hit it over some Torrey Pines, all the way up to the green (about 20' of elevation change), and landed the ball within a couple of feet of the hole. We all shook our heads in disbelief. Unfortunately, he missed the putt and took a bogey. Nonetheless, it turned out to be one of several truly great iron shots of the day.

Holes 2 through 6 featured great golf, with Thompson hitting fairways consistently and making solid pars and a birdie on 6. The 7th hole again proved troublesome after a tee shot to the sand lead to a drive landing in the fairway to the left side of and below the green. He made his second great iron shot of the day as he chipped it 5' up to the lip of the green and then have it roll about 15' to the hole and stop. He made the short putt to save par.

More solid golf continued up to the 13th hole, where things started to unravel. On 13, Thompson hit a great shot from the bottom of the fairway all the way up to within 4.5' of the hole. The elevation change is hard to describe if you haven't seen it in person, but it's essentially like chipping a ball onto the roof of a 4 story building to a hole that you can't see. After staring down a 4.5' birdie putt for an unusually long amount of time, the ball traversed the lip of the hole and then decided to keep on going. Even though he made par, it began a downward spiral that lasted until the end of the round.

On hole 14 Thompson went over the green yet again which he was visibly and audibly not pleased with, which is uncharacteristic for him. He was able to save par, but the confidence level was obviously slipping. Hole 15 could simply be described as a disaster, as he went from sand to rough, to 2 putt. From there on out things just got worse with missed putts and a trip to the water on 18.

Although the day ended on a down note, up until the last four holes Thompson had been playing great consistent golf. He was hitting more fairways and making great pars. I think he'll be able to come back tomorrow and put the past behind. In the Sony Open, Thompson went from 10 over par in round one, to one under par the next round. History has shown he can come back from a bad stretch of golf, and I expect that tomorrow will be a great day for him.

He also will have some extra moral support as his swing coach, Susie Meyers decided before the round this morning to come out for the final day of golf. Apparently she couldn't stand watching the scores on the internet and wanted to come cheer Michael on in person. Susie is an incredibly positive person and it will certainly help having her guidance tomorrow morning before the final round.

P.S. Kudos to both Thompson and Bobby Gates who signed autographs for every single person who was waiting in line. Great class shown after a tough day of golf for both of them.

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