PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Michael Thompson broke through at the Honda Classic last year, besting a strong field on a chilly weekend at PGA National to notch his first career PGA Tour title.
While he was eager to return this week to the site of his maiden win, Thompson is quick to admit that he struggled to maintain the momentum that last year's triumph provided. Top-10 finishes at Doral and Muirfield Village served as highlights, and the former Alabama standout notched a tie for 25th at the Masters, but those results were also surrounded by eight missed cuts.
"Last year was disappointing in terms of my expecations, or the quality of golf that I know I can play," said Thompson. "It was kind of a letdown."
In recent months, the 28-year-old has worked to regain the form that earned him the trophy here a year ago, and those efforts have begun to pay dividends, as Thompson has cracked the top 20 in three of his last four starts. He explained Wednesday that those high finishes were rooted in a shift he made with his mental approach to the game.
"Golf was becoming a business to me, and when that happens it's not fun anymore," he noted. "You're playing for a paycheck, you're playing for a top-10 finish, just all based on results. When I've done that in the past is when I played my worst golf, so when I kind of stay in the present, stay focused on one shot at a time ... that's when I play my best golf."
While Thompson would love to return to the winner's circle Sunday evening at PGA National, he understands that defending his title will be a tall task - both in terms of defeating a world-class field and battling the Champion Course amid warmer and wetter conditions than those he conquered last year.
"I almost have to treat it like a new golf course," he added. "If I'm committed to every shot that I hit, then I can't really be upset at whatever happens. So that's the goal."