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April 11, 2003

After four years at South Carolina, Kyle Thompson earned a spot in the 2003 Nationwide Tour after advancing to the final stage of the PGA Q-School event last winter. After making the cut in his first three events of the Nationwide Tour, he has posted two top 10 finishes. His best finish of the season so far was eighth at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open. At the end of the year, the top 20 money winners will receive a PGA Tour Card – Thompson is currently 15th.

Not only is Thompson playing in the Nationwide Tour, he recently received an invitation to compete against the best at the PGA’s 2003 Heritage held at the Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, S.C. This year’s event will take place from April 14 to April 20.

Thompson left South Carolina as the second golfer to be named All-American three times (1999, 2000, 2001). During his stellar career, Thompson set a multitude of records. In his sophomore season he captured individual championships in both the Seminole Classic and the NCAA East Regional, where he set a school record of 63 in the third and final round to capture the title. After winning the 2001 NCAA West Regional, Thompson broke Carl Paulson’s school record of most individual titles with five. Thompson was also the only collegiate golfer in history of the NCAA to win two different regionals.

1. Did you ever expect to have such a great start in the Nationwide Tour, posting two top 10 finishes in the first three tournaments?
Well the start to my year is the kind of start that you dream about. It is nice to get off to a fast start and get a little momentum going. Hopefully I can carry it through the rest of the season.

2. What is the one main thing you have learned since the Nationwide Tour started, if anything?
The one main thing I have already learned this year is that golf is just a game. Although I am playing against some of the best competition in the world, my outlook on each tournament is to just have fun and enjoy myself. After 9/11 and now the war in Iraq, I have really come to realize that a missed putt or a bad shot isn’t that important. What is important is to have fun doing what I love.

3. Looking ahead at the rest of the tournament, which event are you looking forward to the most and why?
The BMW Charity Pro-Am at the Cliffs in Greenville, S.C. is definitely at the top of my list. I look forward to playing in front of friends and family and hopefully having a great tournament. I first played in this event in high school and had a great experience. Last year, George Rogers and I won the Pro-Am event of the tournament and George has already told me he is ready to defend our title!

4. Is there anything in the past that has helped you in the success you are having in the Nationwide Tour?
My experience at USC is definitely a building block for this year. I feel that I learned so much during my four years spent at South Carolina. As a player I became much stronger both mentally and physically. As a student athlete I also learned a lot about time management, work ethics and responsibilities.

5. How has South Carolina’s Head Coach Puggy Blackmon contributed/helped you through you career outside of the collegiate ranks?
I feel I have a very good relationship with Coach Blackmon. He has had a very positive impact on me both on and off the golf course. We stay in close contact and I still look to him as a resource for advice. His mental tips to me this year before Q-School definitely helped me play my best golf.

6. What is your most memorable golfing experience since graduating from USC?
My most memorable golfing experience is by far the final round of the first stage of Q-School this past year. After three rounds, I was in 30th place and top 20 advance. I played one of my best rounds ever under the pressure and shot a 68 and jumped to 10th place to advance. The seven hour drive home from Dickson, Tenn. went by pretty fast on cloud 9.

7. What course have you not played, but would like to and why? I have not played St. Andrews, but would love to play it. It is where golf was first started…what better reason than that?

8. With both of your sisters playing golf at South Carolina, how is the relationship between the three of you? Is there much competition in being successful?
My sisters are each other’s best friend and my biggest fans. We have a pretty close relationship. The cool thing is that they can be totally competitive on the course and then as soon as they are done they can hug each other and say “good round.” I think the three of us kind of push each other to do better. If I shoot a 67 with a double, the first thing I hear from them is “What’s up with the double? Come on!” Most people don’t know it, but Kory is not only a good player but a great caddie too. She reads greens better than I do!