ATHENS – The Georgia Bulldogs – and Davis Thompson in particular – picked a good time to get hot.
Thompson won medalist honors to pace the No. 16-ranked Bulldogs to a dominating victory in the NCAA Athens Regional tournament. Thompson shot 8-under par over three rounds to win individual honors and Georgia shot 8-under as a team to stay ahead of No. 9 Duke (-1) and No. 4 Vanderbilt (+1) to claim the tournament victory.
By finishing among the top five teams in the 13-team field, Georgia advances to the NCAA Golf Championships in Arkansas next week.
To do so coming off a win makes it all the better.
“Anytime you can win, it just gives you the confidence to know that you can win,” said Chris Haack, who notched his 63rd tournament victory as Georgia’s coach. “To do it on a big stage like the NCAA Regionals gives you even more confidence.”
SMU (+16) and Liberty (+18) also advanced. Tennessee (+21) missed the final spot by three strokes.
But the talk of the day was about Thompson, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound sophomore from St. Simons by way of Auburn, Ala. The son of former Georgia golfer Todd Thompson, Davis has been knocking on the door all year with third- and fourth-place finishes in the Bulldogs’ last two tournaments and five top 10s in his career.
“It’s big,” Thompson said shortly after birdieing his final hole of the tournament at the UGA Golf Course. “I’ve been close before, so it just feels nice. A big sigh of relief.”
Said Haack: “To see him finally validate his play was pretty special. These guys work so hard and get over the hump. That was his first college win, so to do it on a stage like this in front of lot of fans is pretty special. I think the best is yet to come from him.”
The best news is Georgia knows it can play better.
Freshman Trent Phillips was the only other Bulldog to break par Wednesday – he shot 69 to finish 10th individually — and Trevor Phillips (+13) and Will Kohlstorf (+11) carded uncharacteristically high rounds. Junior Spencer Ralston was his steady self as usual, finishing third at 4-under par after carding a 71 Wednesday.
“It was good to see us jell a little bit and finish it off in style,” Haack said.