PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club

The Loop

Thompson leads Champions qualifiers

November 21, 2008

After two seasons of not awarding any full exemptions at the Champions Tour National Qualifying Tournament, the format reverted to the way it had been for many years before the change. Five golfers, led by medalist Robert Thompson, earned spots on the 2009 Champions Tour as Q-school concluded Friday at TPC Eagle Trace in Coral Springs, Fla. Another seven players earned conditional exemptions.

Thompson, 51, who birdied the 15th and 16th holes en route to a closing 70, finished at 7-under 281, one stroke better than John Morse. Tom McKnight was third at 285. Another shot back were James Mason, Steve Thomas and Ronnie Black. In a playoff, Mason and Thomas earned the final two fully-exempt spots.

Black led seven players getting conditionally-exempt status for 2009. The others were Mike San Filippo, Jay Don Blake, Tim Conley, David Ogrin, Russ Cochran and Kirk Hanefeld.

Curt Byrum, Mark James, T.C. Chen, Mike Hulbert, Mike Donald and Mike Smith were among the top-30 finishers and ties, who earned the right into four-spot open qualifiers in 2009. Jerry Courville Jr. and Mark W. Johnson missed by one shot.

-- Bill Fields