Local golf: Birthday win puts Davis Thompson close to PGA Tour card

Davis Thompson, a graduate of the University of Georgia, celebrates his victory at the 2022 REX Hospital Open.

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Davis Thompson, a graduate of the University of Georgia, celebrates his victory at the 2022 REX Hospital Open.

Sea Island’s Davis Thompson gave himself a nice birthday present, and it might turn out to be the gift that keeps giving.

Thompson, a University of Georgia product, won his first Korn Ferry Tour event Sunday on his 23rd birthday. That victory came in the 15th start of his rookie season and pushed him to the ninth spot on the points list. The top 25 on the final points list – or anyone who reaches the 900-point threshold – earns a PGA Tour card for 2022-23. Thompson has 829 points and is almost assured of a promotion to the big leagues.

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“It’s a pretty cool dream,” Thompson said. “It’s been my best birthday yet. Became an uncle this week. It’s just been a great week for my family, so it feels great.”

Thompson’s star has been rising for years. He was a member of the 2021 U.S. Walker Cup team and was the No. 1-ranked player in the first PGA Tour University rankings, which allowed him to advance to the final stage of the Korn Ferry qualifying tournament last year. He then earned his card by making a 7-foot putt on the final hole.

“I’m just very grateful to be here, and I knew what I was capable of, and it paid off this week,” Thompson said.

Thompson nearly won the previous week at the NV5 Invitational, holding the 54-hole lead after a third-round 62. He closed with a 69 and finished tied for fifth.

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Maxwell Ford, here competing at the NCAA Championships, is among the favorites at the 2022 Dogwood Invitational at Druid Hills Golf Club. (Todd Drexler/Tim Cowie Photos)

Credit: Todd Drexler/Tim Cowie Photos

Maxwell Ford, here competing at the NCAA Championships, is among the favorites at the 2022 Dogwood Invitational at Druid Hills Golf Club. (Todd Drexler/Tim Cowie Photos)

Credit: Todd Drexler/Tim Cowie Photos

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Maxwell Ford, here competing at the NCAA Championships, is among the favorites at the 2022 Dogwood Invitational at Druid Hills Golf Club. (Todd Drexler/Tim Cowie Photos)

Credit: Todd Drexler/Tim Cowie Photos

Credit: Todd Drexler/Tim Cowie Photos

Druid Hills hosts Dogwood Invitational

This week’s 55th Dogwood Invitational at Druid Hills Golf Club could boil down to a battle between the Bulldogs and the Yellow Jackets. There are six University of Georgia players in the field, led by Maxwell Ford and Nicolas Cassidy. Georgia Tech has five players in the field, including Bartley Forrester.

The tournament, which signals the start of the summer tour for amateurs, is a 72-hole event that runs through Saturday. Former champions include PGA Tour winners Brian Harman, Webb Simpson and Hudson Swafford. Defending champion Louis Dobbelaar turned pro and is competing on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica.

Ford was named to the SEC’s All-Freshman team and the GCAA All-Southeast Region team. His go-low mentality makes him a person of interest this week at the small, reachable Druid Hills course. Cassidy is a proven commodity at the Dogwood; his 62 – which included a back-nine 29 – led to a tie for second at Druid Hills a year ago. Other Georgia players in the field are Buck Brumlow, Connor Creasy, Eli Scott and incoming freshman Carter Loflin.

Forrester was the stalwart for Georgia Tech at the NCAA Championships. He made a clutch birdie that enabled the Jackets to play the final round and closed with a 68. Other Tech players in the tournament are Adam Bratton, Aidan Kramer, Andy Mao and Hiroshi Tai.

The event also features some top mid-amateur players, including NHL hockey referee Garrett Rank, who tied for second last year, former Clemson standout Stephen Behr of Atlanta, and Roswell’s Billy Mitchell, who was low amateur at the 2021 U.S. Senior Open.

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Marietta's Larry Nelson is a two-time PGA champion, winning in 1981 and '87.

Credit: Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com

Marietta's Larry Nelson is a two-time PGA champion, winning in 1981 and '87.

Credit: Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com

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Marietta's Larry Nelson is a two-time PGA champion, winning in 1981 and '87.

Credit: Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com

Credit: Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com

Larry Nelson to be honored at Memorial

World Golf Hall of Famer Larry Nelson of Marietta will be the honoree by the Captains Club of Muirfield Village before the 2023 Memorial Tournament, which is hosted each year by Jack Nicklaus.

Nelson, 74, is a three-time major champion and one of only five men to go 5-0 in a Ryder Cup. Nelson’s record of 9-3-1 in three Ryder Cups is one of the best all time. He won 10 times on the PGA Tour and 19 times on the senior tour.

“Larry Nelson sacrificed to serve our country, and then he served the game of golf wonderfully,” Nicklaus said. “He was always a very modest and humble man who amassed a wonderful career very quietly.”

Kate Owens, Ivy Shepherd win Georgia Women’s Four-Ball

Suwanee’s Kate Owens, who plays golf at James Madison, and Peachtree City’s Ivy Shepherd, a grad transfer at the University of Kentucky, teamed to win the first Georgia Women’s Four-Ball Championship at Echelon Golf Club in Alpharetta.

The duo shot a 16-under 128 and held off University of Georgia teammates Jenny Bae of Lawrenceville and Jo Hua Hung of Athens by one shot. Neither of the two teams made a bogey, and they combined for 30 birdies over the two rounds.

The sides were tied after No. 14 when Shepherd put her team ahead with a birdie on the 17th. Owens closed the match with a birdie at No. 18.

Christina Surcey of Cartersville and Ella Manley of Calhoun finished third at 4-under 140.

Georgia Adaptive Open crowns champions

Billy Fryar of Bigelow, Ark., won the seated division at the Georgia Adaptive Open for the third consecutive year at Bobby Jones Golf Course in Atlanta.

Kenny Bontz of Parrish, Fla., shot a 6-over 150 to win the men’s overall title, one shot better than Ryan Brendan of Norfolk, Neb. Buford’s Cathy Walch won the women’s division for the second time, beating Suwanee’s Stacey Rice by one shot.

Four qualify for U.S. Open at Ansley

The locals got shut out of the four spots available at the U.S. Open final qualifier conducted at Ansley Golf Club-Settindown Creek in Roswell.

PGA Tour player Chase Seiffert and Korn Ferry standout Harry Hall tied for first at 7-under 137. Korn Ferry players Erik Barnes, who just earned his PGA Tour card, and Matt McCarty tied for third at 6 under.

Sea Island’s Patton Kizzire lost a playoff for the final spot and will be first alternate.

Andrew Novak, a PGA Tour player who lives at St. Simons Island, finished fifth and qualified at the Lakewood Country Club site in Dallas.