Thompson leads as Woods lurks

Michael Thompson upstaged some big names as he shot a 66 to claim a three-shot lead after the opening round of the US Open.

Qualifier Michael Thompson upstaged some of the biggest names in golf as he shot a 66 to claim a three-shot lead after the opening round of the US Open.

The 27-year-old, whose only previous appearance in the tournament was in 2008, didn’t have the best of starts as he bogeyed three of his first six holes. He eventually hit back to finish with seven birdies at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.

There were ominous signs for Thompson and the rest of the field as Tiger Woods opened with a one-under-par to share second spot with fellow Americans Nick Watney and David Toms as well as England’s Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell from Northern Ireland.

The day, though, belonged to the relatively unknown Thompson as he overcame a shaky opening hole that saw him bogey the par-four.

“I’ve got nothing to lose,” said Thompson, who is in only his second year on the PGA Tour.

“This is just a bonus in my career. I’m not guaranteed into all the majors as a professional, and to be able to have the opportunity to play is just a wonderful experience.”

He added: “I was just trying to make a good putt and made I guess a 10-footer or so for birdie to finish off the round.

“Got a little nervous there once all those cameras showed up. But I really held it together – 16 was playing really difficult into the wind today and then 17, I thought I hit a great third shot and then almost putted it in from just off the back of the green.”

World No 4 Woods, who is looking for a 15th major but first since his 2008 US Open success, started with five straight pars and eventually finished with three birdies and two bogeys.

“I played well – I felt like I had control of my game all day and stuck to my game plan,” the 36-year-old said.

“We knew it was going to be quick, but we didn’t think it was going to happen overnight. I was really, really surprised how much it changed.

“I was very pleased with every facet of my game and I stayed very patient.”

World No 6 Matt Kuchar, former US Open champion Jim Furyk, Swede Robert Karlsson and Britain’s Ian Poulter were a further shot off the pace while England’s Lee Westwood carded an opening-round 73 to find himself seven behind.

It was a tough day at the office for some of Westwood’s fellow Europeans as 2011 champion Rory McIlroy and world No 1 Luke Donald struggled.

The 23-year-old McIlroy started the defence of his title with a woeful 77, while Donald fared even worse with a nine-over 79.

“I just too many times was in the wrong position off the tee or with my second shot and it makes it very difficult,” McIlroy said.

“When you’re trying to play catch up on this golf course, it’s very hard… you have to be so precise. Anything just a little off and it really punishes you.”

Phil Mickelson, who lost a ball up a tree, opened with a 76 and Masters champion Bubba Watson made a 78.

China’s 14-year-old Andy Zhang, the youngest player ever to compete in the event, made a triple bogey, double bogey en route to 80.