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.
Rory McIlroy flying high after opening round of US Open at Winged Foot
The Northern Irishman is two shots behind leader Justin Thomas, who shot a five-under-par 65 at Winged Foot.
A little more relaxation brings a little more action for Rory McIlroy at US Open
The Northern Irishman shot 67 on the opening day to sit two behind clubhouse leader Justin Thomas.
Prayers answered for Rory McIlroy as US Open hopeful makes speedy start
The Northern Irishman is two shots off the lead after an opening 67 at Winged Foot.
WATCH: Tiger, Rory, Rahm and DJ on what makes Winged Foot so difficult
Golf’s big buns give their thoughts on the tough test that lies ahead at the US Open.
WATCH: Social media star pays tribute to Mickelson with special US Open song
Take a listen to the most heartfelt and emotional song about Phil Mickelson ever created.
All eyes on USGA when the 120th US Open gets under way at Winged Foot
The fact that last year’s championship took place without controversy over the set up of the course was a welcome relief for the organisation.
Tiger Woods ranks Winged Foot as one of the most difficult courses ever
Tiger Woods is under no illusions as to the challenges facing the field when the US Open tees off at Winged Foot on Thursday.
On This Day in 2004: US power couple Phil and Tiger tamed by Europe at Ryder Cup
Woods and Mickelson were ranked second and fourth in the world respectively but Montgomerie and Harrington bested them.