INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – Robert Thompson won the Senior PGA Professional National Championship on Sunday, shooting a 1-under 71 for a two-stroke victory over James Blair and Mark Faulkner on the Toscana Country Club’s Jack Nicklaus Signature South Course.
The 53-year-old Thompson, a PGA teaching professional at Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity, Texas, finished at 8-under 280 and earned $20,000. He became the second player in PGA of America history to win the PGA Assistant Championship (1986) and Senior PGA Professional National Championship.
“It’s been a long time since that first title, but I can say the feeling is just as good,” Thompson said. “It was great playing here and among a great field.”
Blair, a PGA life member from Ogden, Utah; and Faulkner, the pro at Lake of Egypt in Marion, Ill., shot 70s.
The top 35 qualified for the 2011 Senior PGA ChampionshipJim Woodward of Oklahoma City, nabbed the final spot with a par on the third playoff hole. Five players were competing for one spot.
Slowed by tendinitis in his left elbow and a sore shoulder most of the summer, Thompson took a cortisone shot nearly four months ago that gave him a chance to return to practice.
“I didn’t overwork myself, went on to win the (Southern Texas PGA) Senior Section Championship in July and finished fourth in the Section Championship in September,” Thompson said.
“I felt that I could come out to California and play well. I like the course, and I feel that I’m a good enough iron player to be able to play this course.”
The top eight finishers, including ties, received exemptions into the 2011 Senior PGA Professional National Championship. In addition, the top five are exempt into the Champions Tour National Qualifying Finals at TPC Eagle Trace, provided they submitted an entry form by Oct. 6.