For Kim Thompson, Thursday's victory at the Smith's Utah Section PGA golf tournament was doubly sweet.
For one thing, the Utah Section Championship is one of the few tournaments he had never won during a successful career that has seen him win Section Player of the Year honors four times in the past six years.For another, the victory came at the Alpine Country Club, where Thompson had been an assistant pro for more than a decade until he resigned in protest earlier this summer.
"It's nice to finally break through with my first section win," said Thompson, who carded a sparkling 7-under-par 65. That gave him a three-day 16-under-par 200 total and a $10,000 first-place check.
"When you're on your home course and you're on (your game), it's tough for the rest," said Thompson. "I'm always comfortable playing here. Today I just got it going."
Even though he called it his home course, it hasn't been for the last three months. Thompson resigned his position as assistant pro at Alpine to protest the firing of head pro Joey Bonsignore. He claimed that situation didn't make him any more motivated this week, but he still wasn't afraid to mention it in his victory speech and talk about it later.
"That's a zero to me," said the 40-year-old who now works at Mulligans South. "The board made a decision with the members, and there's nothing I can do about it. I disagreed with it, and that's that.
"It's unfortunate politics got involved and things ended the way they did. But that's history."
Thompson went into the final round a shot behind Sandy's Milan Swilor and Wingpointe's Lynn Landgren after rounds of 69 and 66 the first two days. Landgren shot himself out of it early on his way to a 79, leaving the other two to fight it out in almost a match-play situation.
Swilor, the 1992 and 1990 Section champ, rolled in birdie putts at the eighth and ninth holes, only to have Thompson top him with his own birdies. Then at 10, Thompson made an 18-footer to tie it up and went ahead for good with an 8-footer at 13.
By the time he came to No. 18, Thompson led by three, and he had a chance to set an Alpine course record of 63 with a downhill 20-footer. But he rolled it by six feet and missed the comebacker, although it didn't matter.
Swilor won $7,000 for second place at 201, and Eaglewood assistant Matt Johnson was another six shots back at 207. Eaglewood's Chris Jones, Willow Creek's Dave DeSantis and Spanish Oaks' Roy Christensen tied for 4th at 209.
Bruce Summerhays easily won the senior division with a 197 total, 14 shots better than Mike Smith. Summerhays's total was three shots better than the younger pros, but the seniors played from shorter tees on many holes all week.
Still, Summerhays, the 1990 champion, could have probably finished in the top five overall and won considerably more money than the $1,500 first-place seniors' check. However, he didn't have any regrets about choosing to play with the over-50 gang.
"I'm pointing to the Senior Tour and this (winning the senior division) gives me more benefits than the extra money," he said. "There's a lot more reasons than dollars and cents."
Summerhays earned an exemption to go directly to the final stage of the Senior Tour qualifying and also gets an invitation to the Senior Club Pro Championship. By doing well there, he may get to play in the PGA Senior Championship.
Summerhays is playing in the Franklin Quest Championship today through Sunday.