Georgia’s Thompson readied for U.S. Amateur with big-name neighbors

Univerity of Georgia golfer Davis Thompson.
Univerity of Georgia golfer Davis Thompson.

It was never difficult for University of Georgia senior Davis Thompson to find golf competition while sheltering at St. Simons Island during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A quick scroll down the contact list in his phone made it easy to line up games with the likes of Harris English, Hudson Swafford and Keith Mitchell – all fellow brethren of Chris Haack’s golf program at UGA – and Auburn product Patton Kizzire. All those gentlemen may have victories on the PGA Tour, but each had to dole out a few shekels to their courteous young compadre.

“They are kind enough to let me play with them a good bit, so I got good competition,” Thompson said. “And the courses I mostly play at (Seaside and Plantation at Sea Island) never shut down, so I could pretty much practice and play whenever I wanted. It worked out good for me.”

Thompson hopes all the preparation will pay off at the U.S. Amateur Championship, which begins Monday at Bandon Dunes in Bandon, Ore. There are two rounds of stroke play, before the field is cut to 64 and seeded for match play. Thompson has never been to Bandon, but will find the same sandy soil and windy conditions there similar to what he deals with all the time at Sea Island.

Thompson is on a short list of favorites at the U.S. Am, even though it will be his first appearance in the championship. He currently is ranked No. 4 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings – the second-highest ranked player in the field behind No. 2 Ricky Castillo of Florida – thanks to his consistently high level of play over the last two years. His accomplishments during that time include a win at the NCAA Athens Regional in 2019, a record-setting nine-shot win at the 2020 Jones Cup, and his second collegiate win.

Over the last year he has played in two PGA Tour events. He finished 23rd at the RSM Classic at Sea Island and missed the cut at the Puerto Rico Classic. Since competition resumed this summer, he has reached the round of 16 at the North and South Amateur and the quarterfinals of the Western Amateur, two of the jewels on the summer amateur circuit.

Thompson is trying to become the second UGA golfer to win the U.S. Amateur championship. Vinnie Giles did it in 1972. His caddie will be his father, Todd Thompson, who knows a thing or two about championship golf. Thompson was captain of the Georgia golf team and helped the Bulldogs win an SEC championship.

“He helps me stay calm out there,” Thompson said. “I read my own putts and choose my own clubs, but it’s nice to know he’s there for me.” His dad worked the bag at the Jones Cup and in Puerto Rico.

Thompson operated the Southeastern Junior Golf Tour for 23 years before signing on as tournament director of the RSM Classic in 2017. He was scooting around Seaside last fall to make sure everything was running properly, but he always had an eye open on his son.

Although Thompson could have easily turned professional, he said there was never any doubt that he would return for his senior season. He will be part of a powerful team that includes four other teammates – Spencer Ralston, Trent Phillips, Trevor Phillips and Connor Creasy – who qualified for the U.S. Amateur and is expected to contend for the program’s third national championship.

Last month the PGA Tour revealed its new PGA Tour University, which rewards the best college golfers for completing four seasons, by extending an exemption into the developmental tours start the week after the NCAA Championship. Those ranked in the top five will gain a full exemption into the Korn Ferry Tour. Those ranked from 6-15 will be exempt on one of the three international tours.

Thompson watched the rankings announcement on Golf Channel and heard his name called at No. 4. Should he continue to play at his current level, Thompson would be able to skip past a lot of the travails faced by an aspiring young golfer and jump immediately to the Triple-A version of professional golf.

“My goal is to not really think about it that much,” Thompson said. “You got to play every tournament, play every golf course and try not to think about, even though it’s very important for when I get out of college. I’ll try to block that out and just play golf.”

Georgia Connections in U.S. Amateur

Marcus Byrd, Atlanta

Connor Creasy, University of Georgia

David Ford, Peachtree Corners

Maxwell Ford, Peachtree Corners

Doug Hanzel, Savannah

Alex Herrmann, Georgia State

Max Herrmann, Georgia State

Noah Norton, Georgia Tech

Andy Ogletree, Georgia Tech

Trevor Phillips, University of Georgia

Trent Phillips, University of Georgia

Spencer Ralston, University of Georgia

Bob Royak, Alpharetta

Ben Shipp, Norcross

Tyler Strafaci, Georgia Tech

Davis Thompson, University of Georgia

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