Michael Thompson hangs on to win the Honda Classic
On a day in which many people predicted he would fall apart, Michael Thompson hung on to win the Honda Classic. It’s the first victory on the PGA Tour for Thompson, who was best known previously for finishing as the runner-up to Webb Simpson at last year’s U.S. Open.
Coming into Sunday’s final round, Thompson shared the lead with Luke Guthrie at 8-under par, but the final round partners were going to have to fight off a talented leaderboard full of established names. Lee Westwood, Geoff Ogilvy, Rickie Fowler, Keegan Bradley and Y.E. Yang were just five guys within striking distance of the leaders to begin the day, and while Guthrie struggled to maintain his position, Thompson was solid throughout the day, minimizing his mistakes. This was even more important than usual with the conditions as difficult as they were, as Thompson was one of only five players under par in Sunday’s final round. When most of the bigger name players wilted, the 27-year old Thompson flourished en route to his first career PGA Tour win. By virtue of his second place finish last year, Thompson actually already qualified for the Masters this year, but the win does get him into the WGC-Cadillac event next week at Doral.
- Michael Thompson -9
- Geoff Ogilvy -7
- Luke Guthrie -5
The big story of the week was the withdrawal of world number one Rory McIlroy mid-way through Friday’s second round. After being 7-over through eight and putting a pair of balls in the water on his ninth hole, McIlroy shook the hands of his playing partners and walked off the course. Before leaving, he briefly stopped to talk to reporters:
McIroy said before driving away: “I’m not in a great place mentally. I can’t really say much, guys. I’m just in a bad place mentally.”
— Scott Michaux (@ScottMichaux) March 1, 2013
Now, you’re supposed to provide a legitimate medical reason or prove that there was a massive emergency if you’re going to withdraw mid-round. If you don’t, you will be fined by the PGA Tour. I’m not sure if McIlroy was unaware of that when he left the course, but his agent certainly had no idea what was going on with his client:
RT @birdiebailey Rorys agent: “He’s not hurt. He’s not sick. And he won’t answer his phone. I don’t know.”
— Scott Michaux (@ScottMichaux) March 1, 2013
Soon after, McIlroy released a statement about his wisdom tooth causing him incredible pain, which was affecting his concentration. People jumped down his throat pretty quick with that being his excuse, especially when you consider his quote from above about not being in a great place mentally and the fact that his agent appeared to be in the dark. McIlroy is expected to address the situation on Tuesday before he tees off at the Cadillac, and it’s going to be interesting to see how he responds seeing as how he’s always been very forthright and honest when dealing with the media. I’m inclined to believe that McIlroy’s teeth were bothering him, but I don’t think that was the driving factor here. Either way, I’m not going to rip the guy, at least until I hear what he has to say on Tuesday. He probably could have handled it better, but he’ll learn, and yes, he’s struggling with his new Nike gear, but he’s going to be fine once he gets some more rounds under his belt. As usual, people are making far more out of this than they should be.
The recent struggles of 2006 U.S. Open winner Geoff Ogilvy has always puzzled me, but he could be getting himself back on track after a runner-up finish this week. Since his last win at the Australian Open in 2010, Ogilvy has only placed inside the top-10 eight times worldwide, and four of those were on the Australasian Tour, which doesn’t exactly carry the same level of quality as the bigger PGA and European Tours. Ogilvy’s a pretty important player, as there are few in the game who have his intelligence and eloquence, not to mention that assuming he’s healthy, he’s a dangerous player in just about every event he enters. His second place finish this week propels him inside the top-50 in the world again, and if he can stay there until the end of March, he’ll get back to the Masters.
I don’t usually talk much about the technical side of the game because frankly, there are far more qualified people than myself that discuss the subject, but Ogilvy’s chip-in on 16 is the prime example of the perfect swing, and not just because it went in. Look at the below GIF, and you’ll see the exact tempo that you want on a short pitch. Notice how quiet his hands are throughout the entire swing.
The “Sometimes You Get Lucky” GIF Of The Week
David Lynn pitches in on the 7th from the bunker on Sunday. If it doesn’t hit the hole, it’s going right through the green.
— Jeremy Barcola (@jbarc22) March 3, 2013
Later in the broadcast, Miller turned his attention to fan favourite Rickie Fowler with this gem:
— Absurd Johnny Miller (@AbsurdJMiller) March 3, 2013
He may have been joking around about Fowler, but based on the reaction on Twitter, it certainly wasn’t perceived that way. Whatever you think about Fowler and his attire, he’s been undoubtedly positive for the game, especially when it comes to the younger crowd that the sport simply hasn’t been popular with in recent years. When Jack Nicklaus chimed in, Miller changed his tune.
- The tale of two rounds: Camilo Villegas, a former winner of this event in 2010, was the first round leader after a 64, but missed the cut after a 77 on Friday. Ditto for 2010 Open Championship winner Louis Oosthuizen who started with a 69 before firing a second round 76.
- Don’t have much to say about the week for Tiger Woods, who never seemed like he had it going on. He’ll be in the field next week at Doral.