BLAINE, Minn. -- Michael Thompson already had the 3M Open pretty well in hand on Sunday afternoon as he stood over his 15-footer on No. 18 at TPC Twin Cities.
He simply needed to two-putt to win, and thus, could’ve played it pretty safe.
Why not go out in style though?
That’s exactly what Thompson did, rolling in a birdie to finish the 3M Open at 19-under-par, and earn his second win on the PGA Tour.
He looked skyward and let out a deep breath as the putt disappeared into the cup. He could finally relax after pacing the field for most of the week.
“I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect scenario to finish a tournament,” Thompson said. “To see that go in was relieving.”
After all the required photos, Thompson hurriedly hopped on FaceTime with his wife, Rachel, who was watching back at home.
“Before we even said anything we both started crying,” Thompson said. “My son, Jace, was bouncing off the walls like every 3-year-old does, and excited to see me on the TV. My daughter, Laurel, was sitting in my wife’s lap crying. Just a typical FaceTime with the family.”
It’s been an exciting year for the Thompson family to say the least. While this win at the 3M Open is certainly the latest highlight, it pales in comparison to the biggest highlight from a few months ago.
Less than a week after the PGA Tour suspended play due to the coronavirus pandemic back in March, the Thompsons traveled to Topeka, Kansas to witness the induced birth of their adopted daughter Laurel. In that sense, the time away from the game might have actually been a blessing in disguise.
“It was really a joy for me to be able to stay home and really get to care for her and learn her little nuances and see her smile,” Thompson said. “It definitely put perspective in my mind. Even though golf is very important and it’s what I love to do, our kids are what we live for. I’m very, very thankful that I had that time with her.”
That perspective might have helped Thompson throughout the week at the 3M Open. He managed to stay within himself regardless of the situation. Even when the pressure was mounting late in the final round.
As fellow competitors continued to go low — including Adam Long who put together a masterful weekend and finished in second place at 17-under-par — Thompson hit a shot for the ages on No. 16 to pretty much secure his victory.
After he put his tee shot wayward into the bunker on the very gettable 300-yard hole, Thompson got up and down in style, sticking his bunker shot to within a few feet. He tapped in for birdie knowing he simply had to par the final couple of holes to win.
“I love bunkers,” Thompson said. “That was the one thing I did when I was a kid after I got home from school. I would go sit in a bunker for a couple of hours and hit bunker shots. I have really good feel in the bunker and good visual for how I want the shot to come off.”
With the win at the 3M Open over the weekend, Thompson earned himself some job security over the next couple of years. His victory moved him up to No. 39 in the FedEx Cup standings and also qualified him for the 2020 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, the 2020 PGA Championship, the 2020 U.S. Open, the 2021 THE PLAYERS Championship, and the 2021 Masters Tournament.
“It gives me the confidence to know that I can compete on the biggest stage in the world in this game and that I can do it again,” said Thompson, whose only other win on the PGA Tour came in 2013 at the Honda Classic. “I’ve never been in a better position, I think, than right now on the PGA TOUR. I am champing at the bit to go prove myself again. And next week is another opportunity on a golf course that I absolutely love.”
Tony Finau, who fired his caddie after melting down at the Memorial Tournament last week, finished tied for third place at 16-under-par, and defending champion Matthew Wolff finished 14-under-par. Some other big names like Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood missed the cut and Dustin Johnson withdrew.
None of that mattered to Thompson. He wasn’t concerned with anyone else other than himself all week. He remained emotional nearly 30 minutes after securing his victory and was looking forward to returning home to see his family.
“This is what we do all that work for,” Thompson said. “Just so exciting. Now get to celebrate that with them. What a week.”