When playing a PGA Tour event notorious for low winning scores — as is the case at this week’s American Express — the only realistic strategy is to be aggressive, fire at pins and try to record as many red numbers as possible.
PGA Tour rookie Davis Thompson agrees.
“Watching this tournament for a couple years now I always see the winning score being so low,” Thompson said after the second round of the American Express on Friday. “So you kind of really don’t have a choice, you just got to keep hitting greens and giving yourself looks and trying to make the putts.”
But even Thompson could not have predicted just how successful his strategy would be. The 23-year-old, who hails from Auburn, Ala., made two eagles on Thursday at La Quinta C.C. on his way to the first-round lead. He added three more eagles at PGA West’s Nicklaus course on Friday to maintain his lead, besting the likes of World No. 4 Jon Rahm, who sits two shots back.
Thompson’s world-beating play over the first two days was not only good enough for the lead, though, it was also good enough to match an incredible PGA Tour record: the most eagles through 36 holes.
“Yeah, that’s pretty cool. I didn’t know,” Thompson said after his round when a reporter acknowledged his record-tying feat. “I kind of thought about that a little bit after I made the putt on 7. But yeah, those are always nice. Able to get two-for-one. But, yeah, it’s pretty cool to have some putts drop and make some eagles.”
A look at the record books shows that Thompson is under-selling his accomplishment quite a bit.
Only six other players have made five eagles through the 36 holes of a four-round PGA Tour tournament since 1983, when they began to keep track: Justin Rose (2022 RBC Canadian Open), Dustin Johnson (2020 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship), Austin Cook (2019 Barbasol Championship), Keegan Bradley and Brandt Snedeker (both at the 2018 RBC Canadian Open) and Davis Love III (1994 Sony Open in Hawaii).
According to the PGA Tour, Scott McCarron actually made five eagles through 36 at the 1995 American Express, but back then the tournament was a five-round affair featuring a 72-hole cut. Despite all the eagles, McCarron missed the cut.
In fact according to PGA Tour records, of all the players to make five eagles through the first two rounds, only Dustin Johnson went on to claim victory that week.
As for Thompson, he’s going with a with a simple approach over the weekend in his quest for PGA Tour victory No. 1, with Rahm in hot pursuit.
“Just kind of reset and refocus for tomorrow. Just got to keep executing and trying to hit fairways and greens,” Thompson said Friday night. “It’s easy to have your mind race. But I’ve been playing this game for a long time, so I kind of it’s a constant way to kind of train your mind to focus on one thing at a time.”