Brad Ziegler is not unlike everybody else who has played golf with Chris Thompson at Lawrence Country Club in that he tracks his progress in professional tournaments on his phone, hoping to see another birdie pop up.
But unlike the rest of Thompson’s fan club, Ziegler walked 48 miles this past week carrying his friend's clubs and reading his putts.
And he did that well enough to help Thompson play his way into a seventh-place tie and $18,800 in earnings at the Air Capital Classic in Wichita.
Ziegler, partners with Gary and Jeremy Hamm in Six Mile Chop House and Tavern in Lawrence, also caddied for Thompson in a pre-qualifier and qualifier in Texas last month with good results.
“Before that, I hadn’t carried a bag since I was a senior in high school in 1985,” Ziegler said. “We talked about me doing it for him a few months ago. It’s something I kind of wanted to do. I have a lot of belief in his game and I like to read greens. It’s kind of fun for me.”
Thompson qualified for the Air Capital Classic on Monday and finished 13-under at the tournament, earning his way into next week’s web.com event in Springfield, Ill., by virtue of finishing in the top 25.
It was the first web.com event for which Thompson, 40 and a two-time All-American for Kansas, qualified during the 2017 season.
Had he not gained an exemption from qualifying with his strong performance, Thompson would have been on the road to Springfield after firing a 67 Sunday to participate in a Monday qualifier. Instead, he was back in Lawrence on Sunday night in time for a Father’s Day pizza dinner with his family.
Thompson and Ziegler will drive together to Springfield on Tuesday morning, play a practice round in the afternoon and spend Wednesday practicing while most of the field plays in a pro-am event.
“He’s a fantastic green-reader, certainly one of the best I’ve ever worked with,” Thompson said of Ziegler. “And I like his demeanor in general. He knows when to keep it light, when to be serious. And we’re friends, we play a lot of golf together, so he knows my game.”
The highlight of Thompson’s tournament came Saturday when after scoring 37 on the front nine, he came in with a 30 on the back side.
On the front nine, Ziegler said, the two players joining Thompson were making every putt they looked at and Thompson’s weren’t falling.
“We had a little chat at the turn, he bucked up, said, ‘I’m going to play this back nine well,’ and he just owned it. He beat the golf course up,” Ziegler said.
Thompson had his best web.com finish at Panther Creek in Springfield, Ill., last season when he turned a 17-under four-day total into a tie for 13th, so he'll have a lot of positive memories to fall back on this coming weekend.