Thompson posts second-round 67 to take lead at Great Exuma Classic
Published: Jan 11, 2017
GREAT EXUMA, The Bahamas — Nicholas Thompson battled through 32 holes to take the clubhouse lead by one over Dan McCarthy at the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay when play was suspended late Monday evening. Thompson started the day at 1-over-par and finished his first round at 3-over before managing to tie the best round of the tournament with a second-round 67 that included seven birdies and two bogeys.
“I played nicely in the first round but I just didn’t quite get the putts going. I got off to a nice hot start on the back nine in the second round though,” Thompson said. “I played the back nine back-to-back times and that’s dicey to begin with, but I got off to a good start.”
Beginning on No. 10, the second most difficult hole on the course, Thompson curled in a long birdie to open the second round and then nearly holed his approach into the par-3 11th for back-to-back birdies. A three-putt bogey at the par-4 12th slowed him down briefly, but he bounced back with birdies at Nos. 14 and 15, and then chipped in for par at the 18th to turn in a 3-under 33.
“After going for it in two on 18, I put myself in a bad spot and then put myself in a worse spot,” Thompson said. “Then I got it up right next to the green, and I hit a beautiful chip that rolled right in and it kept the momentum going because then I turned and birdied No. 1.”
Three birdies and a bogey followed on the front nine, allowing Thompson, who has one Web.com Tour win to his credit (2007 HSBC New Zealand PGA), to take the clubhouse lead by one with the entire afternoon wave still on the golf course when the horn blew.
“I played a lot of proper shots,” Thompson said. “Whether if I played the proper shot for me that went with the wind and sent it out in the bushes and let it come back, or if I hit one in the green and held it against the wind, I made a lot of good club decisions today.”
After winning four times on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA (Professional Golfers' Association) TOUR Canada a year ago, McCarthy is in a prime position to potentially bring those winning ways up to the Web.com Tour. The 2016 Mackenzie Tour Order of Merit winner is just one back of Thompson after rounds of 72-71 to open. The 32-year-old is from upstate New York but resides in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA, these days and said the seaside gusts blowing through Exuma were all too familiar.
“It’s very, very windy [in West Palm Beach],” McCarthy said. “I’ve got a lot of experience in wind and pretty well practiced in keeping the ball down and out of the wind, so I’ve just been doing a very good job of keeping it in front of me and keeping it under control.”
Another advantage McCarthy said was just a month ago he played on the Mackenzie Tour’s team at the Aruba Cup. Although his team wasn’t victorious, the late season tune-up had him ready to handle the 35 miles per hour gusts that blew out of the northeast throughout his round Friday.
“The Aruba Cup just a couple weeks ago was extremely windy,” McCarthy said. “(It was) very similar miles per hour and stuff like that but the landing areas were a bit more generous down there so that wasn’t quite as stressful down there, but it was extremely windy, so I’ve seen a lot of wind lately.”
After opening with a 7-over 79, Kent Bulle tied Thompson for the round of the tournament with a second-round 67 to get into a share of third after the most impressive four-hole stretch of the tournament, playing the last four holes in 6-under-par. The Kentucky native entered the par-5 15th at 8-over for the tournament, just a couple shots inside the cut line, but reeled off an eagle at the 15th, a birdie at the par-4 16th, another birdie at the par-4 17th and then another eagle at the par-5 18th.
Two-time PGA TOUR winner D.J. Trahan is tied with Bulle in third after rounds of 78-68. The second round of the unprecedented Sunday-Wednesday format was scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, with the third round set to tee off between 12:30 – 2:30 p.m.
The event is being held at the Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Course at Sandals Emerald Bay in Great Exuma. The total purse of the tournament is $600,000, with $108,000 going to the champion.