Tide Golfer Prepares To Play In Augusta

For the next couple of weeks, Alabama golfer Michael Thompson will see his name printed as a-Michael Thompson. The little prefix stands for amateur, which is how Thompson will live a golfer's dream. The Crimson Tide star leaves this weekend for Augusta, Georgia, to participate in the Masters Tournament.

Michael Thompson is a senior golf star for the Alabama Crimson Tide of Coach Jay Seawell. Bama is ranked the number one college team in America and Thompson is ranked the number one college player in America.

Thompson will be competing in his first Masters Tournament (and first PGA event). He was invited into the field as amateur after he advanced to the finals of the 2007 United States Amateur Tournament.

Thompson, a native of Tucson, Ariz., began his college career at Tulane. When Hurricane Katrina wiped out much of Tulane's sports activity, the Green Wave coach, Tom Shaw, contacted Bama's Seawell about taking Thompson.

Shaw is now the coach at Vanderbilt and will be Thompson's caddy at Augusta. Thompson said he chose Shaw because the two have similar personalities on the course: quiet, calm, focused. Shaw played college golf at Georgia Tech.

Thompson has played seven practice rounds at Augusta, all this year. He had never seen the course before playing on it. Thompson will play a practice round on Tuesday, April 8. He will be paired with Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott and Hunter Mahan. Thompson met Mickelson earlier this year when the two were at Augusta the same day for practice.

On Wednesday, April 9, Thompson will compete in the Par 3 Contest with former University of Alabama golfer (and now Champions Tour player) Jerry Pate and also Ben Crenshaw.

Notes on Michael Thompson from Becky Hopf in The University's media relations office:

As is tradition, the amateurs competing at the Masters stay in the Crow's Nest on the grounds of Augusta National. Thompson will stay there and has visited the apartment on one of his practice round trips. Among the men who have stayed there when they competed in the Masters as amateurs are Jack Nicklaus, Ben Crenshaw and Tiger Woods.

Thompson's long-time swing coach is Susie Meyers who is also his sports psychologist. She works out of Ventana Canyon in Tucson.

Thompson's parents, Mike and Beth Thompson, are recreational golfers. Thompson says they'd play golf but he didn't pay much attention to it until he was about six. They were watching golf on TV and he remembers watching Davis Love III play and liked it. His parents got him a nine iron and a putter when he was six and would let him chip on the course when they'd play. He had his first lesson at a youth clinic when he was seven and hit irons and woods and was completely hooked on the sport ever after.

Thompson is an Eagle Scout, earning the rank just shy of his 18th birthday. Being an Eagle Scout has many requirements. Among them, he had to have these badges: First Aid, Citizenship in the Community, Citizen in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communications, Personal Fitness, Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving, Environmental Sciences, Personal Management, Camping, Swimming/Hiking/or Cycling, and Family Life.......There is a golf badge and he has that...

Thompson's scouting required him to do a service project. He created a Sensory Garden for the Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired (SAAVI). He did it in honor of his grandfather, Colonel J. Hays Metzger who lost his eyesight that year. (Metzger became an Eagle Scout in 1939). Thompson's younger brother, Zach, also an Eagle Scout, helped complete the garden. The visually impaired can stroll through the garden which is designed for them to smell, feel, taste and hear.

Thompson has always marked his ball with quarters. His mother has been collecting 1985 quarters in honor of his birth year. He was born on April 16, 1985.

Putting is his strength.

Making the USA's Palmer Cup team is his goal before he turns pro. This year's Palmer Cup is in Glasgow, Scotland, in June. If he makes the Palmer Cup team, he will likely turn pro in July.

His teammates call him "Slick." His Alabama teammate Matthew Swan of Montgomery gave him the name. Thompson's bicycle was at Swan's house. Swan had several friends over one night watching TV and no one initially noticed Thompson slipping in to get the bike, not wanting to disturb the group. Swan looked up and spotted Thompson quietly moving down the hallway with the bike and said something like, "Slick, what, are you stealing a bike?" The name stuck.

Thompson is a reader. His March 2008 reading has included "The Last of the Mohicans."

As of March 28, according to the Golf Stat collegiate rankings, Thompson ranked 1st in collegiate golf for his last round average which is 69.00 (the stats included and compared him to 4,910 rounds from college golfers around the nation).

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