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Almost like rags to riches

17th Toshiba Classic

March 14, 2011|By Bryce Alderton, Daily Pilot

Robert Thompson let his putter carry him from qualifying for the 17th Toshiba Classic to a tie for fifth following Sunday's final round at Newport Beach Country Club.

Thompson scored a bogey-free final round to finish 13-under-par 200 (68-66-66), placing four shots behind tournament champion Nick Price. Price (17-under) finished one shot ahead of Mark Wiebe for his fourth Champions Tour title. Thompson, 2010 Toshiba champion Fred Couples and Brad Bryant all finished the tournament at 13-under.

Thompson's performance was his second-best in 23 events on the tour for golfers 50 and older. The Huntsville, Texas resident tied for fourth in the 2008 Turtle Bay Championship. He had to do some work earlier in the week to get into Friday's first round.

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Thompson was one of two players to qualify for the Toshiba Classic following a 68 at Goose Creek Golf Club in Mira Loma on Monday. Thompson made a par on the fourth playoff hole to join P.H. Horgan III from a group of five golfers.

"I felt like I was playing two tournaments this week," Thompson said. "I hit the ball good [at the Toshiba Classic]. I like the golf course and had a decent finish."

"[Sunday] I hit it solid all day. On two or three greens I made good up-and-downs. I nicked a tree and was 20 yards short" on the par-four seventh. Then I was 2 ½ feet above the hole." Thompson made par on No. 7.

He birdied five holes Sunday, including the par-five 15th. Then Thompson checked the leaderboard to see where Price was at. Price led Thompson by four shots when Thompson was on No. 16. Thompson made par on his final three holes – he singled out a four-footer on the par-three 17th. He led the field of 80 finishers in putting average (25.3 putts per round).

The check for more than $70,000 is Thompson's second-largest Champions Tour payday.

With the Toshiba finish, Thompson qualifies for the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic April 1-3. Qualifying has been part of Thompson's professional life in the last four years.

He turned 50 in January 2007 and played in three Champions Tour events through 2008. In 2008 he earned medalist honors at the tour's national qualifying tournament and played 17 events in 2009.

He tallied four top-25 finishes in 2009, earning $206,996.

He made just two starts in 2010 and finished seventh in the tour's national qualifying tournament in November at TPC Eagle Trace in Coral Springs, Fla. He is not fully-exempt.

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