Curtis Thompson’s recent golf career is like a steep, downhill putt on a fast green — it’s taking off and not slowing down.
Thompson, from Coral Springs and now entering his sophomore year at LSU, was the highest-finishing player from South Florida in the recently concluded U.S. Amateur. That accomplishment comes directly after winning the prestigious Dixie Amateur last December and an extremely successful freshman season with LSU.
Out of six South Floridians from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties who qualified for the U.S. Amateur, Thompson was the only one to advance through the two rounds of stroke play into match play at Cherry Hills Country Club near Denver.
“It was pretty cool,” Thompson, 19, said. “Particularly since it was my first time playing in it and making it to match play. Making it to match play was one of my goals.”
In the first round of match play, Eduardo Espana beat Thompson 1-up.
“We were all-square after I was 1-up almost all day,” Thompson said from Hurricane Isaac-wary Baton Rouge. “Then I made one mental error on the 17th hole that cost me the match. I went with a driver to get it as far forward as possible, and it went into a bunker. Then I hit the lip and the ball came back in the bunker, so I made bogey and he made par. That was the end of that, and we both made par on the last hole.”
Nevertheless, not a bad showing considering he made it to the final 64 golfers in the country in a tournament that Tiger Woods was more than proud to win three times.
Thompson vows to get back to the U.S. Amateur. “That’s definitely the goal,” he said.
His golfing lineage indicates he has a good chance to return. His older brother Nick plays mainly on the PGA’s Web.com Tour and has earned more than $590,000 in his career. This season, Nick qualified for the U.S. Open and finished in a tie for 51st. Younger sister Lexi is a standout on the LPGA Tour. And, if that’s not enough family golf connections, carrying Curtis’ bag at the U.S. Amateur was his dad, Scott.
Thompson is not in a hurry to turn pro.
“I definitely plan on staying all four years at LSU,” said Curtis, a business major. “I like it a lot up here, and I think we’ll be a pretty good team. College life gives you a lot of freedom. You get to make your own decisions. You just have to make sure you don’t get too wayward. You can make good decisions or make bad decisions that will make you a fool.”
One decision he is sure about right now. Would he rather become a successful businessman or a pro golfer in the future?
“Pro golfer,” Thompson said without hesitation. “No doubt about it.”
Five South Floridians did not advance to U.S. Amateur match play. Gary Nicklaus, 43, of Jupiter, who had his famous father, Jack Nicklaus, watching him during the event, finished at 4-over 145 for his two stroke-play rounds.
Also not advancing to match player were Daniel Berger of Jupiter (144), T.J. Vogel of Miami (146), 16-year-old Kristian Caparros of Miami Shores (153) and Ryan Carter of Miami (156).
The tournament was won by Steven Fox, a senior at Tennessee-Chattanooga.