The long victory drought for Michael Thompson is over in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Thompson, 35, won the 3M Open, his first title since 2013, by shooting a final-round 4-under 67 at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minnesota on Sunday, two strokes better than Adam Long.
“I just played such good golf today,” Thompson said, “stayed within myself, believed in myself. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Thompson may have enjoyed the best coronavirus break of all players on the PGA Tour, adopting a baby girl, Laurel Marie. On March 18, one week after the Tour suspended play, Thompson and his wife, Rachel and 3-year-old son Jace were in Topeka, Kansas, to witness the induced birth of their second child.
“It was really a joy for me to be able to stay home those first three months of her life and really get to care for her and learn her little nuances and see her smile,” he said. “It definitely puts perspective in your mind when you have kids because golf is very important and it’s what I love to do, but our kids are what we live for.”
Thompson, who entered the week ranked No. 151 in the FedEx Cup standings, showed signs that his game was turning in the right direction with a T-8 finish at the RBC Heritage in June, his best result of the season. He overcame a sluggish start with a three-putt bogey at No. 3 to drop out of the lead, but righted the ship with back-to-back birdies at 5 and 6, rolling in a 21-foot putt at the latter.
Long, 32, who needed a birdie on his 17th hole on Friday to make the 36-hole cut on the number at 2-under 140, made a charge on the weekend that course designer Arnold Palmer would have appreciated. He shot 63 on Saturday and birdied six of his first 12 holes Sunday to grab a share of the lead with Thompson.
“I kept putting the pedal down and making as many birdies as I could,” Long said.
But Long, who notched his best result among nine top-25 finishes this season, took 3 putts at the 17th hole and despite a closing birdie shot 7-under 64. He came up one stroke short in his bid to become just the fourth player since 2010 to make the cut on the number and win. Among the consolation prizes for Long: the top-two finishers in the top 10 at the 3M Open not already qualified earned an exemption into the U.S. Open in September.
Thompson, who finished tied for second at the 2012 U.S. Open, earned the other spot into the national championship at Winged Foot, where he played in his first U.S. Amateur. He clinched the 3M title with a nifty birdie from a bunker at the short, par-4 16th hole. From 37 yards, Thompson exploded to 2 feet and tapped in en route to a 72-hole total of 19-under 265. It had been 2,702 days since his lone Tour title at the 2013 Honda Classic.
Tony Finau, who fired his caddie this week and had swing instructor Boyd Summerhays on the bag, shot 68 and was part of a nine-way tie for third. Finau has just one victory to his credit at the 2016 Puerto Rico Open and has the most top-eight finishes with 25 of any player without a win on Tour in the last four seasons.
“They don’t give out second-place trophies, third-place trophies, I’ve learned that the hard way with lot of them coming early in my career, but I continue to just believe and hope for the best for my future,” he said. “With these major championships right around the corner, I’m really happy with where my game’s at.”
Last year’s champion Matthew Wolff made a valiant effort to defend his title with five birdies in his first 14 holes to close within one of the lead, but made bogey at the last to shoot 67 and finished T-12 at 14 under. It marked his third top 25 since the Tour’s return in June.