Thatcher exceeds expectations at Disney

Roland Thatcher during the second round of the Children's Miracle Network Classic.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The guy with the roman numerals after his name is trying to write a Cinderella story that would make Walt Disney – or at least Carl Spackler – proud.

Roland Churchill Thatcher IV, who entered the week No. 179 on the PGA Tour money list and staring at a date with the second stage of Qualifying School next week, is the surprise second-round leader of the Children’s Miracle Network Classic.

Thatcher grew up living off the fifth hole at TPC Woodlands, which might lead one to believe he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. A reporter deigned to ask what a guy with roman numerals in his name was doing worrying about the money list. “Shouldn’t you be running a family business?” he asked.

“We come from a long line of auto workers and Navy families,” Roland the IV answered. “My father was a retired airline pilot. I might have an in as a baggage handler at Southwest if I had to. But no, the name as pretentious as it is, my wife and I decided to stop that right there. We didn’t pass that one on to my son.”

While many in the field are feeling pressure to preserve their playing privileges for next season, Thatcher had all but accepted his fate. When he met his pro-am partner, he told him that he was just hoping to gain some momentum heading into Q-School. After all, to move into the top 125 and avoid Q-School, he would need to finish at least solo second (he has only one top-10 finish all year). But after taking just 24 putts in the second round to grab a three-shot lead, he said the goal has changed.

“I’m hoping to have a nice long off season and start the year early next year,” he said, implying that no Q-School and a spot in the 2011 winners-only Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii are now within reach.

That would cap off a magical week at the Magic Kingdom. Thatcher has never won on Tour. But he can dream. After all, this is supposed to be the happiest place on earth, where they say dreams come true.

Said Thatcher: “Pun intended, I wouldn’t mind being referred to as Cinderella for the week.”

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