Good Vibes Buoying Todd's Mid-Amateur Run
October 11, 2017 | Atlanta, Ga.
By Stuart Hall
Try as Thomas Todd III does to articulate the thought on a couple of occasions, the appropriate words to describe his runs of good golf play are vague.
“I just get these feelings that it’s going to be a good week,” said Todd, 30, of Laurens, S.C., on Tuesday after defeating David Bolen, 7 and 5, in the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship’s Round of 64 at Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course.
“They usually never occur on a USGA level, though. Usually when I get them, good things tend to happen. Last Tuesday or Wednesday, as we were preparing to come down here, I told my dad and stepmother that I had that feeling.”
Comfortable with the courses he was playing, Todd posted a 4-under-par 137 in stroke play, including a 5-under 66 on Crabapple, to tie for second, one shot behind medalist Bradford Tilley.
The feeling is generally associated to when Todd is swinging, putting and thinking well. But, then he tosses in a curve. How would that explain the events of his 18-hole U.S. Mid-Amateur qualifier on Aug. 19 at Rivermont Golf and Country Club in nearby Johns Creek, Ga.
“I was having a bad putting day,” said Todd, whose probability of qualifying with three holes remaining were diminishing. “I was on life support. Finally, I saw one go in and it was a like a special moment.”
The putt finished off the first of three consecutive birdies to close his round of 71, a score that tied him with three others for the last four spots in this week’s U.S. Mid-Amateur.
Todd also has taken a different mindset into his third consecutive U.S. Mid-Amateur appearance. The previous two years, Todd had blinders on in his quest to qualify for match play, which brings with it the possibility of winning six matches to claim the title and earn an exemption into next year’s U.S. Open as well as a likely invitation to the 2018 Masters.
“It’s a big deal,” he said. “I just wanted to make match play so bad that I didn’t even enjoy the stroke-play rounds.”
“I have my dad on the bag, and I just said we’re going to have fun no matter what,” said Todd. “It’s an honor to be here, so let’s just enjoy the walk.”
That could also serve as a metaphor for Todd’s life. Nearly 18 months ago, the family business where he worked was sold. Short a few credits at Presbyterian College, he went back and graduated in May. Unemployed, but financially sound, Todd spent considerable time over the summer honing his game.
His work is on display this week.
Against Bolen, 38, of Lubbock, Texas, and a 2015 U.S. Mid-Amateur semifinalist, Todd lost the opening hole, citing nerves and sloppy play for the sluggish start. A birdie at the 214-yard, par-3 third squared the match before he took control by winning Nos. 5 through 7. In fact, he won seven of the final nine holes and was 6 under through 13 holes given the usual match-play concessions.
If there was a hiccup, it came at the 565-yard, par-5 12th hole. While he made a birdie, during the U.S. Amateur qualifier held here on July 18, Todd recorded a double eagle. In Monday’s second round of stroke play, he made eagle. Both times he used his trusted 19-degree hybrid.
Tuesday, Todd joked that he listened to his father’s advice and went with a 3-iron instead and the ball clipped the top of a fronting greenside bunker and stayed in the hazard. He blasted out to within 4 feet for a winning birdie.
When the feeling is right, that type of miscue is easier to shrug off.
“Yes sir, it is,” said Todd with a laugh and smile.
Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work frequently appears on USGA websites.