Curtis Thompson takes solo Korn Ferry Q-School lead with closing birdies

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Curtis Thompson takes solo Korn Ferry Q-School lead with closing birdies

Korn Ferry

Curtis Thompson takes solo Korn Ferry Q-School lead with closing birdies

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The top of the leaderboard at the final stage of Korn Ferry Tour Q-School was looking quite crowded until Curtis Thompson birdied his final two holes Saturday on Orange County National’s Panther Lakes course. Ultimately, the birdie at No. 18 bumped him out of a seven-way tie and into the solo lead in Winter Garden, Florida.

At 15 under, Thompson will take a one-shot edge over six men into the final round – where varying levels of Korn Ferry Tour status are on the line. Finish first (or tied for first), and a player earns fully exempt status for the 2020 season. Past the medalist, the rest of the top 40 players and ties earn some level of guaranteed starts on the developmental tour next year.

Thompson is the older brother of LPGA star Lexi Thompson, who is the only female in the field at this week’s QBE Shootout across the state in Naples.

Curtis celebrated his 27th birthday on Saturday. The former LSU player turned professional in 2014 and is fighting to make his way back on the Korn Ferry Tour, where he played from 2015-18. The player who says he’d be a motivational speaker if he wasn’t a professional golfer has struggled over the past few seasons, but a big day on Sunday could him set him back on track.

KORN FERRY TOUR: Q-school leaderboard

Interestingly, Curtis’ older brother Nicholas, 36, is also in the field but is tied for 58th after a third-round 74 on Panther Lakes.

The group tied for second at 14 under includes Braden Thornberry, who has bounced around the top of the leaderboard all week. Thornberry had a 65 on Panther Lakes in the third round, matching the score he posted on Crooked Cat in Round 1 that got him an immediate share of the lead.

Thornberry is back at final stage as a professional this year. He was halfway through his senior season at Ole Miss last year, and ultimately turned professional before the spring season despite not finishing high enough to earn guaranteed starts. Thornberry won the 2017 NCAA individual title and was formerly the No. 1-ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

Of the two college players in the field, Duke senior Chandler Eaton is in position to slide into the top 40 on Sunday. He is 7 under and tied for 50th, but only one shot out of a large tie for 38th. Kansas senior Andy Spencer, the other amateur, is 2 over and T-140.

Tommy Gainey, who made headlines for his arrest earlier in the week for allegedly soliciting a prostitute in nearby Polk County, is also on the bubble. He is 6 under and T-58 through three rounds. He was only one off the lead after Thursday’s opening round.

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