Thompson Finalist For Ben Hogan Award

Suppose you are the number one player on the number one college golf team at the highest level of NCAA play. And suppose there is an award for the best college golfer in America. And suppose you had just returned from playing in the Masters. Would you not be expected to be in competition for such an award?

It was no surprise that Alabama senior golfer Michael Thompson was named a semifinalist for the 2008 Ben Hogan Award. Co-sponsored by the Golf Coaches Association of America, the award is presented annually to the top men's NCAA Division I, II or III, NAIA or junior golfer. It encompasses the golfer's performance in all collegiate and amateur competition during the past 12 months.

Thompson was named an All-America last June after finishing in a tie for fourth at the 2007 NCAA Championships. The All-Southeastern Conference golfer from Tucson, Ariz., was a finalist at the 2007 U.S. Amateur in August, winning his sectional in Pinehurst, N.C., to qualify. Last week Thompson played in The Masters Tournament as an amateur, shooting 73-78/151. His play last summer, which counts in the Hogan Award consideration, includes winning the Greystone Invitational where he set the tournament record with his 16-under par finish. He finished second at 22-under par in the Players Amateur and he tied for third at the Jones Cup.

Thompson's collegiate career includes four individual tournament championships as a golfer at Tulane his freshman and sophomore seasons in 2004 and 2005. Tulane's golf team was disbanded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005-06, allowing him to transfer to Alabama for the 2006-07 season, his junior year. He made history as both an All-Conference USA golfer and an All-Southeastern Conference golfer as he was All-SEC last season at Alabama and was All-Conference USA 1st Team at Tulane.

In 42 collegiate career tournaments, 127 rounds, Thompson has a 72.00 stroke average. He led Alabama in 2007 with his 71.89 stroke average in 12 tournaments and he goes into this weekend's SEC Championships in St. Simons Island, Ga., with a SEC-leading 70.10 stroke average in seven tournament appearances this season. Thompson has finished among the top 10 individuals in all seven, including five in the top five. He has finished over par in only one tournament this season (+1) and under par in six of the seven.

Ten men were named semifinalists on Wednesday, including, in alphabetical order, Jonas Blixt, Florida State; Kevin Chappell, UCLA; Jonas Enander Hedin, Charlotte; Rickie Fowler, Oklahoma State; Chesson Hadley, Georgia Tech; Rory Hie, Southern California; Jamie Lovemark, Southern California; Webb Simpson, Wake Forest; Joel Sjoholm, Georgia State; and Michael Thompson, Alabama.

Alabama produced the 1993 Ben Hogan Award winner in Marten Olander.

Finalists for the 2008 award will be announced on May 7 and invited to Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas for the presentation of the award to the winner on May 18.

Alabama senior golfer Mark Harrell of Hazlehurst, Ga., was among the golfers who were initially named to The Ben Hogan Watch List earlier this year. Harrell qualified for and played in the 2007 U.S. Open last June, missing the cut by one stroke.

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