Davis Thompson (Shawn Allen/AGC photo)
By Shawn Allen
On a bluebird day in Sea Island, Ga., the color of the day was red. Not just Davis Thompson’s red University of Georgia golf shoes, but his red numbers -- a tournament-record 7-under 65 and a 13-under 203 total.
Thompson, a junior at the University of Georgia, shattered the tournament scoring record by three shots. The record was originally set by Luke List and Gary Woodland in 2007, when List bested the future U.S. Open champion in a playoff.
Thompson himself lost a playoff last year, falling to junior phenom Akshay Bhatia in a rain-shortened contest.
Related: Bhatia wins Jones Cup in playoff after final round washed out
No playoff was needed this year. After an opening round of 70, he fired a 4-under 68 to take the second-round lead. Then, he turned it on.
"I birdied the first, and just kept trying to hit quality iron shots," said Thompson. They were so quality they precipitated an avalanche of birdies. Starting on the seventh hole, Thompson stuffed it to four feet, making the birdie putt. He did the same on the next four holes, pulling away from the field. He tacked on one more birdie at the 13th for a total of seven on the day against no bogeys.
Said Thompson of his mindset: "They can’t catch me if I birdie every hole." He was right.
The rest of the field struggled with the 15mph winds today, with Thompson's closest pursuer David Perkins finishing nine shots behind. The next low round was 69 from the third and fourth place finishers, Jackson Suber and Austin Hitt.
Thompson's 65 tied the tournament record set by Woodland and Colt Knost in 2007.
Thompson attributes his ability to score in the wind to the way he can flight the ball. "I can hit it low or high depending on what I need. So I felt comfortable."
By the 13th hole, he had extended his lead to seven shots. "I knew it was my tournament to lose." He admits he can get nervous, but he says, "I try not to think. I pick my target and my line, then I hit it."
Ironically, he didn’t have a great practice round, and was working on his swing. "To be honest, in the practice round, I kind of hit it all over." Thompson favors a draw, but he was pushing too far right off the face, "so I was trying to get my arms and hips to go down the line together."
Clearly they did. Now Thompson will set his eyes on his NCAA season.
Thompson moved to No. 3 in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com World Amateur Ranking (and will move up from his No. 9 WAGR ranking), but this is his last individual tournament for a while. He will rejoin the 19th ranked Bulldogs for the Spring season. He doesn’t approach the two types of tournaments differently, but he does distinguish a difference in motivation. "When I’m out there [with his team], I represent my teammates, my coaches, and my school. So I grind over every shot because every shot counts."
But taking stock on winning the Jones Cup, and turning his eyes slightly to the future, Thompson admits, "I beat a lot of good golfers out there today. It means a lot to see my hard work pay off. I don’t know what the future holes, but I hope I can compete with the likes of Luke List and Justin Thomas," just two of the PGA stars on the Jones Cup past champions list.
ABOUT THE Jones Cup
The Jones Cup is probably the biggest of the
amateur majors in the United States, and the reason
is the venue and the strong U.S. and
international field. The past champions list is littered
with PGA Tour stars, including Justin Thomas,
Patrick Reed, Luke List, Kyle Stanley, Beau Hossler
This 54-hole individual stroke-play event,
in 2001, is played at Ocean Forest Golf Club.
The Rees Jones design opened in 1995 and has
the Georgia State Amateur Championship, the
Southern Amateur Championship and the 2001
Cup Match. The Jones Cup brings together
many of the finest amateurs from the United States
and abroad for a three-day competition.
The Jones Cup was born from a deep commitment to
amateur golf by the A.W. Jones family, who
founded the Cloister and Sea Island Golf Club in
The Sea Island Golf Club has played host to
seven USGA championships. The Jones Cup is yet
another extension of the family's strong
involvement in amateur golf.
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