US Open Under Way -Thompson Leading – Tiger Lurking

06/15/12 8:25 PM

The $8 million purse is certainly attractive, and the Olympic Club Lake Course in San Francisco looks incredible, and just flat being able to make a living playing golf has got to make every PGA Tour professional wake up with a smile on his face. But the 112th U.S. Open is after all a Major event, and since most of these guys really don’t have a problem paying their bills, it’s all about that Major Grand Slam title. Many of those in the running have never taken down one of the four major grand slam golf championships, and the active player with the most grand slam titles, a guy by the name of Tiger Woods you may of heard of, is lurking and ready to pounce.

With 14 majors won so far, Tiger may be in his best position in a couple of years to take down number 15 here at the U.S. Open this year. Fresh off his recent win at the Memorial at the end of May, Tiger has pocketed nearly $3 million already this year in 10 tournaments. And even his competition thinks Tiger looks great. After his first round Thursday, 2012 Masters champ Bubba Watson, who may have already played himself out of contention along with fan favorite Phil Mickelson, remarked about Tiger flashing his old stripes with some impressive shots during the first round, “That was the old Tiger, that was beautiful to watch.”

But there are other helpful golfers standing in his way. 27 year old Michael Thompson is playing in his first U.S. Open as a pro, and he shoved seven birdies down the resisting throat of the difficult Olympic Club Lake Course in round one for a 4 under 66. That give him a three shot lead over Woods and four other golfers. Graeme McDowell, Nick Watney, Justin Rose and David Toms also finished Thursday’s round at 1 under to kick off their tournament.

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A full 13 players shot in the 80s, and the average score on the difficult first day layout was 74.9, not exactly what you would hope for on a round one par 70 major event. Exactly how tough is the course playing? The top five ranked players in the world combined to go 26 over par, and that takes into account Woods at 1 under par. Ryo Ishikawa was probably speaking for all the golfers when he said after a well earned 71, “I’m very tired right now.”

Bubba Watson shot a 78 for the first round, only saying that Olympic “beat me up.” Phil Mickelson joined Watson with Tiger in the marquee group on day one, and the four-time major champ’s first tee shot of the day went into the trees. His day never got better, and he ended up with a 6 over par 76. The Olympic US Open course then saw the top three players in the world, Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood play together in what the PGA Tour hoped would be an impressive group in the afternoon. Those top three ranked players combined for a whopping three birdies, and finished with scores of 79, 77 and 73 respectively. The Olympic is known by all the golfers to be a tough course to handle, and after opening up the tournament with a birdie, Joe Ogilvie told his caddie, “71 more pars and we’re hoisting the trophy.” There are a lot of big-name players who need to make the cut Friday, and the weekend is so far lining up perfectly for a bunch of underdog golfers and a guy named Tiger.

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