Air Cap notes: Former Jayhawk Chris Thompson puts himself in contention

Chris Thompson chips on to the green on No. 17 during the second round at the Air Capital Classic on Friday at Crestview Country Club.
Chris Thompson chips on to the green on No. 17 during the second round at the Air Capital Classic on Friday at Crestview Country Club. Correspondent

Chris Thompson couldn’t help seeing the leaderboard toward the end of his second round in the Air Capital Classic on Friday at Crestview Country Club.

Thompson, a former University of Kansas golfer who lives in Lawrence, hit his tee shot long and left at the par-3 17th, leaving him a perfect view of the up-to-the-minute standings.

Plenty would change before the end of a broiling day in the Tour event. But at that point, Thompson had a share of the lead.

“I saw it, but I’ve been doing this long enough that it’s not that big a deal on Friday,” said the 40-year-old Thompson, who is making his first start of the season after earning a spot through Monday qualifying. “We’ve still got a long way to go.”

After finishing up a weather-suspended 65 in the first round Friday morning, Thompson came back with a 68 to make the weekend cut for the third time in five Air Capital Classic appearances. Thompson’s 36-hole total of 7-under 133 left him nine shots behind tournament leader Aaron Wise heading into Saturday’s third round.

That’s well ahead of his 36-hole pace four years ago, when Thompson shot 140 in the first two rounds before tying for seventh, seven shots behind champion Scott Parel.

“Anytime you play well at a place, you gain confidence,” Thompson said. “Fifty percent of it on this tour is confidence.

“I like this course. It suits my game well. I’m rolling it great.”

This is Thompson’s 72nd tournament, but his first since the Portland Open last August. He shot a 6-under 66 in the qualifier at Willowbend, then capped his opening-round 65 with a birdie after waking up at 5:30 a.m. Friday to play his final two holes.

Even though Wise continued to roll with his second-consecutive 62 Friday, Thompson liked his position.

“Having some success here before, I kind of know what the scores will be,” Thompson said. “I know what you need to get to.”

Former champ goes low – Crestview has always been good to Sebastian Cappelen, who won the 2014 title in his professional debut.

On Friday, Cappelen fired a 6-under 64 for his lowest score in 14 competitive rounds on the North course.

“I knew what holes I had to take advantage of and I did that today,” said Cappelen, a Denmark native who played collegiately at Arkansas. “It was a little different than yesterday when I didn’t get away on those few holes, but today it worked.”

Cappelen and Parel were the lone weekend survivors among five former champions who were in the field. Parel posted a 2-under 138 total – right above the cut line – while Rob Oppenheim, Chris Tidland and Casey Wittenberg were all over par.

Cappelen’s bogey-free second round marked the 11th time he has shot in the 60s at Crestview.

“I didn’t really hit the ball that great, but I made some good putts and got close to some of those par 4s where you could knock it up close to the green, hit some good chips and make some birdies,” Cappelen said.

Playing like a Champ – Texas A&M rising senior Cameron Champ has turned heads in the U.S. Open this week with his booming drives. His 36-hole total of 5-under 139 is the lowest among 14 amateurs in the field.

Before advancing through sectional qualifying, Champ had a spot in the Air Capital Classic field. He earned a sponsor exemption by edging Oklahoma State’s Zach Olsen in a playoff for the Patriot All-America Invitational title in December.

Olsen received the bid at Crestview after Champ played his way to Erin Hills. He made the cut at 2-under 138.

Last year’s Patriot exemption, Cal golfer Collin Morikawa, posted the highest finish by an amateur in Air Capital Classic history after losing in a playoff to Ollie Schniederjans.

Etc. – Sterling’s Michael Gellerman, who tied for 17th in last year’s Air Capital Classic to earn a spot in the next event, missed the cut Friday with a 36-hole total of even par. … Willy Wilcox was disqualified Friday for improper use of a rangefinder during the second round. This is the last of four events in which golfers are allowed to use the distance measuring devices as part of a PGA Tour trial.