A truism on the Web.com Tour is while a golfer may like a golf tournament, love the golf course, enjoy the weather, and appreciate the volunteers and the hospitality, he never wants to play in the event again.
The goal, for everyone on tour, is to advance to the PGA Tour and never come back.
But not everyone is good enough to do it. Some, like Kyle Thompson, have played in such tournaments as the Rex Hospital Open numerous times. Thompson, in fact, has won it three times, including a year ago, when he came to Raleigh with no official winnings for 2015 and his career at a crossroads.
“Everyone wants to be on the PGA Tour but this is the second-best place, in my mind, in the world to play,” Thompson said of the tour. “I love Raleigh. I’m excited to be back. It’s a great event for me.”
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Thompson, who played college golf at South Carolina, edged Patton Kizzire and Miguel Carballo in a playoff last year. His victory at TPC Wakefield gave him exempt status on the tour, and the $112,500 winner’s check gave him security and the assurance he could still play golf for a living.
It also caused a well-known octogenarian in Orlando, Fla., to send him a letter.
As Thompson recalled this week, his wife, Emmi, almost threw it out, thinking it was junk mail. Thankfully she didn’t, seeing that it was from Arnold Palmer.
“It was amazing,” Thompson said. “I was at a tournament and she sends me a photo of it and says, “Cool, huh?’ I said, ‘Yeah, you think.’ I couldn’t believe it.
“It was a nice letter. He said, ‘I understand this was your last event …’”
The Rex might have been had Thompson played poorly and missed the 36-hole cut. Then 36, with a wife and two young children, he might have had to find another way to support his family.
As Thompson said, “I was one foot out the door, looking to do something different if things didn’t go my way.”
Instead, he put together rounds 63, 68, 69 and 67, won the tournament and received a letter from The King.
“As much as the trophy means to me, that letter is framed and probably more important to me, something you can pass down to generations,” Thompson said.
While winning the Rex, Thompson didn’t finish among the tour’s top 25 money winners in 2015 and earn his PGA Tour playing rights for this year. He was 30th on the list with more than $148,000, notching one other top-10 finish after the Rex.
This year had a promising start. Thompson was second in the first Web.com Tour event, closing 65-66 in the Panama Claro Championship to earn $67,500.
Everyone wants to be on the PGA Tour but there’s no point in being mad about it. You have to enjoy wherever you’re playing.
Golfer Seamus Power
It has been more of slow-go since Panama. Thompson has missed three of his past five cuts, shooting a pair of 79s in his last tournament, the United Leasing and Finance Championship two weeks ago in Newburgh, Ind.
“My game is decent but I really haven’t had a good putting week this season,” Thompson said. “But these greens have been good to me in the past.”
Seamus Power won in Newburgh, becoming the first Irish-born golfer to win on the Web.com Tour. No letter from Palmer, but Power did get a congratulatory tweet from Rory McIlroy, who has 2.85 million followers on Twitter.
“That sort of made my social media blow up for a little while,” Power said, smiling.
Coming off a victory, Power now comes to TPC Wakefield, where he holds the competitive course record. He opened with a 10-under-par 61 in the Rex a year ago but didn’t break 70 in the final three rounds and tied for 51st.
Power, 28, is another twentysomething trying to make it to the PGA Tour and stay there.
“I stay with a great family here but when you leave you really don’t know what to say,” Power said. “It’s like you want to say, ‘I’d love to see you soon, but just not back here.’
“Everyone wants to be on the PGA Tour but there’s no point in being mad about it. You have to enjoy wherever you’re playing.”
For Thompson, Raleigh and the Rex have made for a very enjoyable stop.
“You never know when it’s going to be your week,” Thompson said. “Who would have ever thought I’d win this tournament last year? Probably the longest shot in the field.”
Rex Hospital Open
What: Web.com Tour event
Where: TPC Wakefield, Raleigh