LEWISTON – Will Thomson is still in high school, but he's already had plenty of time to get used to being in the spotlight.
Thomson, who is competing in his fifth Porter Cup at the Niagara Falls Country Club this week, has been a known commodity since he was 13. In 2014, the Pittsford native became the youngest player in U.S. Golf Association history to qualify for the U.S. Amateur. Later that summer, the young prodigy had a following when he participated in his first Porter Cup.
"After the U.S. Am, there was a lot of attention," Thomson said. "It was really fun coming out here and getting a little bit of a crowd."
Mention the Porter Cup to someone in the know and they'll often rattle off the impressive golfers that displayed their talents in Buffalo's backyard: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas among others. Thomson has the potential to be the latest name added to the list. He's Golfweek's No. 1 recruit in the 2019 class and is committed to the University of Texas, a program that boasts three national championships.
Texas popped on his radar after fellow Pittsford native Gavin Hall opted to take his talents there, but visiting the school is what cemented his interest.
"I just love the feel of Austin," said Thomson, who relocated to Florida to play at Community School of Naples. "The courses are as good as it gets. They're always top 10 and competing every year. I'm really good friends with a lot of the guys that are going to be on the team, so it's just a really good fit."
He'll join a star-studded group with the Longhorns, as Texas head coach John Fields and his staff have struck gold in recruiting in recent years. The No. 3 recruit this year, the No. 3 recruit next year and the No. 4 recruit in 2020 are all expected to play alongside Thomson in Austin.
Thomson committed in 2016, so he's anxious to finally jump to the collegiate level as he enters his senior year of high school.
"Every time I visit there it feels like a should be there already," Thomson said. "But this last year has been really good. I've been playing well lately, so it's been good to get my game ready for when I get there. I've got to mature."
While Thomson is accomplished, he's still aiming for his first top 10 finish at the Porter Cup. After shooting even on Thursday, he's tied for 10th at the halfway mark.
Overall, Thomson shot a 2-under 138 in the first two days and is four strokes behind the leader, Thomas Walsh. He at one point was as high as second, but fell down the board after hitting one over on two of the final three holes.
"I putted lights out on the front nine and then I just couldn't really get anything going on the back," Thomson said. "It was kind of a disappointing finish, but I've still got a chance for tomorrow, definitely."
He'll tee off alongside Eoin Leonard and Qi Wen Wong at 12:10 p.m. on Friday.
Walsh, a rising senior at the University of Virginia, rocketed up the leaderboard from 10th to first after hitting 5-under 65 in the second round. He birdied on six holes, including three in a row on the back nine. Australian Shae Wools-Cobb, the highest-ranked player in the field, is alone in second place a stroke back of Walsh.
Two Western New York natives, East Amherst's Ben Reichert and Elma's Billy Hanes, struggled on the second day. Reichert, who finished tied for first after round one, had a 6-over 76 and dropped all the way into a tie for 23th place. Hanes, who was tied for 10th entering Thursday, fell into a tie for 44th.