Thompson earns another Masters invitation

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SAN FRANCISCO — Michael Thompson is headed back to the Masters Tournament.

The former Alabama player finished one shot behind U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson at Olympic Club on Sunday, but he’ll get a return trip to Augusta as one of his consolation prizes.

Thompson played in the 2008 Masters after finishing as runner-up in the 2007 U.S. Amateur, which was also played at Olympic. He missed the cut after calling a penalty on himself.

Thompson, 27, almost walked away with one of the biggest prizes in golf. He opened this tournament with 66, but fell off the pace with rounds of 75 and 74. For the final round, Thompson carded 3-under 67 and was the clubhouse leader at 2-over until Simpson posted a total one shot lower.

“I knew from the beginning of the week if I can just shoot right around 1-over every day I would be happy,” Simpson said. “I didn’t expect at all to shoot under par and then to go out and shoot way under par really on a U.S. Open is kind of unbelievable.”

The top eight and ties are traditionally invited to the Masters. For next year, that list will include Simpson, Thompson, Graeme McDowell, David Toms, Padraig Harrington, John Peterson, Jason Dufner and Jim Furyk.

Of those eight, only Peterson has never played at Augusta National before.

Ernie Els, who failed to qualify for this year’s Masters, missed out on an automatic invitation by one shot on Sunday. He placed solo ninth with a round of 72.

FATHER’S DAY: Keegan Bradley’s father, Mark, carried his son’s bag on the 18th hole on Sunday.

After all, it was Father’s Day.

“It was the highlight of my life. It was really a wonderful experience, to be walking the fairway with my son,” Mark Bradley said. “I’m a golf professional myself. I love my son, and he loves me. To walk down the 18th at a U.S. Open is a dream come true.”

The younger Bradley was playing in his first U.S. Open.

He won last year’s PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club in his very first major.

CADDIE CONNECTION: North Augusta’s Benji Thompson had a front-row seat Sunday for Tiger Woods’ final round at Olympic.

Thompson, 29, is caddying for Casey Wittenberg. The former amateur star shot 67 on Saturday and wound up paired with Woods.

“It was fun. It was the first time I’ve been in his group,” Thompson said. “(His) crowds are unbelievably large. It was fun, I’d love to do it again.”

Wittenberg shot even-par 70 in the final round while Woods came in at 3-over 73.

Thompson has been caddying for Wittenberg a couple of months and helped him through the U.S. Open qualifiers.

“This week has been great, it’s been a blast,” Thompson said.


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