Friday, April 29, 2011

Former Tulane golfer can sympathize with tornado victims in Alabama

Published: Friday, April 29, 2011, 3:08 AM     
Updated: Friday, April 29, 2011, 3:36 AM
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Michael Thompson Opening round of the 2011 Zurich Classic of New Orleans at the TPC Louisiana in Avondale Thursday, April 28, 2011.  Photo By Ellis Lucia, The Times-Picayune
Michael Thompson was the star player on Tulane’s golf team in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina chased him and his teammates out of town. Tulane eventually dropped its men’s golf team, and Thompson found a second home at Alabama, where he starred for the Crimson Tide before embarking on a professional golf career.

That’s one of many reasons why watching the news reports on the killer tornadoes ripping through Tuscaloosa and Birmingham on Wednesday evening wrenched his heart.

“We were paying really close attention to what was going on, watching the live footage of the tornado just missing downtown Birmingham, just going a little bit north of there,” said Thompson, who lives south of Birmingham with his wife, who played soccer for Tulane. “We were worried. We have some really good friends that live there and also play for the golf team at Tuscaloosa. I didn’t get to see that live, but I saw video footage of that, and that was really scary. The tornado actually went right over where I used to live in Tuscaloosa. Probably destroyed the apartments I used to live in.”

The Thompsons’ home didn’t have any damage, as the largest tornado went just north of downtown.

“At that point, it was about a mile and half wild,” he said. “Just feel real, real badly for everyone who lives in that path because it wasn’t a very nice storm. We were fortunate that our apartment complex was OK.”

Thompson, who managed to shoot a 2-over-par 74 Thursday, said the storms reminded him of Katrina, except the devastation happened so much faster.

“I’m looking forward to going back and helping out with cleaning up and just whatever I can do.”

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