Tide Represented At Travelers Golf

The University of Alabama was well represented at the 2011 Travelers Championship PGA Tour event at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell. Three former Crimson Tide participants, a veteran, recent Q-School qualifier and first year professional, were in the field of 156. Rounding out the contingent was a highly successful morning television host who bleeds crimson.

Jason Bohn, fresh off a career best, finished 62nd in the 2010 FedEx Cup rankings. He garnered national fame in 1992 as a redshirt freshman struggling to gain a spot in Alabama's men's golf team rotation. Winning a hole-in-one event for a cool $1 million forced him to relinquish his amateur status. Twenty installments of $50,000 per year will end in 2012. Although flush with cash at a young age, the Lewisburg, Pa., native opted to stay in Tuscaloosa to pursue a degree in finance. Two PGA Tour victories--2005 B.C. Open and the 2010 Zurich Classic of New Orleans--highlight the resume.

Michael H. Thompson showed promised as an amateur participant in two of golf's prestigious events in 2008. He earned an invitation to the Masters Tournament and was the low amateur scorer tying for 29th at the U.S. Open Championship. Prior to securing his PGA Tour card at the Final Stage of Qualifying School this past December, Thompson alternated between the Nationwide Tour and the Hooters Tour for three years, achieving 2010 Player of the Year status in the latter. The Tucson, Ariz., native ranked first on the 2010 NGA Hooters – All Tours Combined money list.

William "Bud" Cauley burst on the professional scene last weekend tying Bubba Watson for 63rd place at the U.S. Open. The impressive debut at one of golf's majors earned Alabama's first three-time All-America a sponsor's invitation for the Travelers Championship. The Jacksonville, Fla., native had visited the Nutmeg state as an Alabama sophomore competing in the NCAA East Regional held at the Yale course in New Haven.

Joe Scarborough is a successful television host of the MSNBC show, "Morning Joe". Allegiances for the upcoming October Tide and Gator gridiron matchup would appear to be divided for the University of Alabama undergraduate and University of Florida Law School graduate. Not so, according to the Florida resident. "As they say, the first cut's the deepest. I'm a Bama fan. I've always been a Bama fan. I'll always be a Bama fan," he said. Previous occupations as an attorney and congressman found Scarborough surrounded by colleagues with Gator ties. Past defeats to the Florida school resulted in good-natured ribbings. Scarborough accompanied his television co-host and keynote speaker Mika Brzezinski to the third annual Women's Day presented by Travelers on Thursday at TPC River Highlands.

Affecting change is a lawmaker's duty. If he was in a position to sponsor an initiative, the former legislator favors a sharing of the revenue by paying stipends to student-athletes.

His love and appreciation for the time spent matriculating at the Tuscaloosa campus has intensified. "I loved Alabama for the years I was there and the 20 years or so after but I love Alabama even more now for what it did for my oldest son, Joey, who is going to be graduating there in the fall," Scarborough said. "It's been a remarkable experience for him. It's the same small community on a big campus that I remembered back when I went in the 1980's. It's had a transformative effect on him. My allegiance to The University of Alabama is undying."

Bohn shot a one under two round total score of 139 (70, 69) falling short of the minus four cut. Play stoppage caused by rain plagued the veteran PGA Tour member's rhythm. Chronic disc pain has affected his all-around game this season. "I haven't played very well all year," he said. "It's mainly been my ball striking. My ball striking was really good this week but my putter just kind of let me down." A win in New Orleans contributed to Bohn reaching an all-time personal best on the money list last season with earnings slightly over $1.9 million. "I putted so much better last year than I have this year and I struck my ball a lot better. This year both things have been a little inconsistent but I'm still doing the thing I love so it's not that bad."

Golf and college football overlaps seasons. Bohn, a Keystone State native with Penn State graduates in the family, will have an attentive eye on the September 10 contest.

Thursday rain meant Thompson and Cauley were scheduled to complete 36-holes on Friday. Coping with delays requires an even keeled personality. The duo could be charter members of the "Mr. Cool" club according to the veteran Bohn. "Both of them are fantastic guys. I've never seen Michael angry. I give them (Thompson and Cauley) a lot of credit for their attitudes. Many times a young guy coming out, his attitude is not where it really needs to be. They are not appreciative of what they have and where they are. I think both those young men are going to be successful because of their attitude," said Bohn. An open door policy exists for Thompson and Cauley to contact him for any sage advice pertaining to the intricacies of the PGA Tour. Thompson discussed his strategy for coping for the situation of interrupted play. "Be patient," he said. "Keep my head about me. Not rush. Not think I have to do anything crazy. Just go out and have fun. You go out with a mind set that you have more holes to play. That keeps the energy level up so you're not looking towards an end."

Cauley visited the driving range around 7 p.m. Thursday evening to keep loose.

Skill with the clubs is not the only essential to being a successful professional. Attitude is the mental cement creating the foundation to weather any catastrophic exposure on the course. Thompson discussed playing on the apprenticeship tours the past three years. He said, "I didn't change the way I thought. I was just comfortable being out there, I was happy being out there. Anytime you're happy wherever you are you're going to be successful no matter what you do. That worked really well last year."

Playing on the PGA Tour has been a life long dream since he was seven years old. Thompson achieved the goal of earning his PGA Tour card on a cold, windy day in Florida aided by an eagle on the 17th hole.

Putting has always been the strength of his game but a concentrated effort in conjunction with his caddy Matty Lou and golf instructor Susie Meyers to become a more effective driver off the tee has paid dividends. Among the PGA Tour personal milestones Thompson achieved at this weekend's Travelers Championship were – highest finish (4th), first top ten in 17 career starts, lowest round 62, first time ever being tied for the lead in a fourth round at -18 and first double-digit under par (-10 after round 3).

Thompson had an inauspicious beginning on the final day spraying the first tee shot to the right near the cart path, leading to a bogey. One of 12 tied at 16th after third round play with a -10, he completed the front nine with three birdies advancing to a -12. Six birdies on the back nine for a 29 catapulted him to finish the tournament at a -18, two strokes from the top. Thompson shot under par every round – 67, 65, 68, 62 – totaling 262 for the tournament.

Successive putts on the 10th and 11th holes proved to be the catalyst. "That really got me going. I just carried the momentum and tried to calm my nerves and play Michael Thompson golf as Coach Jay Seawell at Alabama always tells me," he said.

Familiarity with the course was a factor. A sponsor's exemption was granted for the 2008 Travelers Championship. He made the most of the opportunity three years ago. Before 2011 he was one of only four amateurs in the Connecticut staged tournament's history to survive the cut since the 1960's.

"Travelers has been great to me," he said. "I've loved this place since the moment I stepped foot on the grounds. Andy (Bessette) with Travelers has been very nice to me."

Cauley has echoed those sentiments all weekend to Bessette, chief administrative 0fficer and executive vice president of Travelers. Regarding sponsor's exemptions, Bessette said, "Bud came up to me at least 15 times and said thank you. They are nice young men and have resumes that stand on their own. We love these young guys. A bunch of us who have been former NCAA athletes always have a passion for making sure the next generation has a chance to make the transition to the next level of the sport by getting a shot. Michael came back and look what he's done today. He is a testament to what we do."

Thompson's previous best finish was at the Puerto Rico Open (T14). His tournament low score of the day, 62, was one shy of the lowest fourth round recorded at the Travelers Championship. A nine under performance in a Hooters regular season event that he won and Sunday's round rank as personal bests. Thompson surged to a fourth place solo finish earning $288,000. After an interview with the media, CBS extended an invite to their booth to meet with anchor Jim Nantz and analyst Ian Baker-Finch.

Cauley, participating in his second PGA Tour event, entered Sunday six under, tied at 52nd. He shot par on every hole of the front nine before stumbling with a bogey on the tenth. Six birdies on the back nine, highlighted by five in a row, produced an 11 under good enough for a 24th place tie. Four rounds under par – 68, 67, 69, 65 – totaled 269 worth a winning share of $46,425 for the rookie. Cauley unfazed by the pressures continued in the money column for the second consecutive week. "Last week I kind of got my feet wet," he said. "Being my first professional event it was a little bit of a different feeling. Once I got out there it was just golf. I feel comfortable out here now and just ready to come out and compete. I'm happy to extend my cut streak to two here this week."

Immediate plans are to compete on the Nationwide Tour beginning with the Children's Hospital Invitational to be held July 21-24 in Columbus, Ohio.

Thompson is seeking to duplicate the success of last year but against the stiffer competition of the PGA Tour. "This year I'm trying to go through the motions to find my rhythm and find my place out here to feel like I belong," he commented on Friday after making the cut. Sunday's spectacular performance is a long stride on the path towards reaching the goal.

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