PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. When Michael Thompson dreamed of winning his first PGA Tour event, he walked up the final fairway with a big lead and little stress.
The reality was different Sunday in the Honda Classic.
He had a one-shot lead as he stood in the 18th fairway, some 240 yards from the flag with trouble in the shape of large lake. The motto from his golf team at Alabama was to "finish strong," and Thompson did just that.
Instead of laying up with his second shot on the par 5, he drilled a 5-wood into the bunker left of the green, setting up a simple sand shot and a birdie he didn't need. He closed with a 1-under-par 69, one of only five rounds under par on a punishing day at PGA National.
His start wasn't bad, either.
Thompson holed a 50-foot eagle putt on the third hole, relied on a superb short game around the toughest part of the golf course to build a four-shot lead, and hung on for a two-shot win over Geoff Ogilvy that will take him places he's always wanted to go.
He gets into his first World Golf Championship this week at Doral, and qualifies for two more WGCs this year at Firestone and in Shanghai. He's in the PGA Championship, gets to start next year in Hawaii and earned a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour.
And to think two weeks ago he was so down after a 78-80 performance in Los Angeles that he wondered if he would make another cut.
"The Northern Trust was a good thing in my life," Thompson said. "It allowed me to focus on what I needed to do to play like I did this week."
Thompson spoke with his wife and longtime swing coach. He shared with them his worst fear: that he would not make another cut this year and would lose his PGA Tour playing privileges. They helped him to see that if his worst fate was to play golf next year on the Web.com tour, he still had an enviable life.
It turned out to be a big week for Ogilvy, too. The former U.S. Open champion missed his past four cuts and had plunged to No. 79 in the world ranking. He already missed the Match Play Championship and was on the verge of missing another WGC this week.
He chipped in for a birdie from behind the 16th green and two-putted for birdie on the 18th for a 69 to finish alone in second, moving him up to No. 47.
Ogilvy has to stay in the top 50 by the end of the month to return to Augusta National. For now, he has smaller problems he only packed enough for this week.
"I'm going to have to go do some laundry," Ogilvy said.
LPGA Tour in Singapore Stacy Lewis (1-under 71) won the HSBC Women's Champions on Sunday, overcoming two bogeys and some shaky putting on the back nine to hold off Na Yeon Choi (72).
"The last four or five holes, I was pretty nervous; I'm not going to lie," Lewis said.
European PGA Tour in Centurion, South Africa Dawie Van Der Walt (5-under 67) beat countryman Darren Fichardt (69) by two shots in the Tshwane Open to become the fifth South African winner in 10 European Tour events this season. American Peter Uihlein (69) finished fourth.