Lexi Thompson’s brother earns PGA Tour start with assist from flood lights
We may have gotten a preview of what Tiger Woods’ TGL Monday night golf league will look like at the RSM Classic Monday qualifier.
No, not the mixed-reality, giant simulator, stadium atmosphere part. The Monday night, under the lights part.
For the second time in four years, the Monday qualifier for the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year had a playoff go beyond sunset. This year Georgia PGA, who administers the RSM Monday qualifier for the PGA Tour, got creative with avoiding a Tuesday morning restart.
Ryan French of Monday Q Info posted a photo on Twitter Monday afternoon of portable flood lights being set up on a par-3 at Brunswick Country Club, the site of the qualifier.
Sure enough, while Jacob Solomon fired a six-under 64 to grab the first of four spots in the field at Sea Island this week, eight other players shared second at 66 and needed an eight-for-three playoff to determine the final qualifiers.
That’s not an uncommon scenario in Monday qualifiers, which feature dozens of dream-chasing pros, looking for one hot round to get them on the big stage. With so many good players, usually more than four have a great day. That becomes a problem with mid-November qualifiers when there’s just a little more than 10 hours of daylight with a 5:28 p.m. sunset.
Luckily for the tournament officials, the first two spots were nabbed quickly as Rafa Campos, who secured PGA Tour membership for next season already, made the only birdie on the first playoff hole to qualify. Then, Matt Akins did the same on the second.
PGA Tour winner Tommy Gainey was pulled from the playoff before the third hole after Geoff Olgivy withdrew from the field, allowing Gainey to get in off the alternate list. That still left five golfers competing for the final spot as darkness descended and the spotlights were fired up.
Thanks to his birdie, Atkins actually narrowly avoided this situation for a second time in his career. In 2019, Atkins and Luke Guthrie were the last two standing from an eight-man playoff for the final spot at the RSM that went about 40 minutes after sunset. Under the glow of nearby car headlights, Atkins parred the third playoff hole to advance to the tournament.
This time, he didn’t need any extra light, and the Georgia PGA was better prepared.
The group played the illuminated par-3 three times before Curtis Thompson, older brother of LPGA star Lexi Thompson and younger brother of Korn Ferry Tour winner Nicholas Thompson, drilled a birdie putt on the fifth playoff hole to eliminate Will Chandler and clinch the final spot.
Thompson’s birdie putt fell at around 6 p.m. ET, meaning it was just a little too late for him to literally walk off into the sunset.
Later this week, he’ll make his 33rd career PGA Tour start and second of the season.