Tiger back in the hunt, Thompson leads

First round leaderboard: -4 M Thompson (US) -1 T Woods (US),     D Toms (US),     J Rose (Eng)
Tiger Woods, three times a US Open champion, was happy with his opening 69. Net photo.
Tiger Woods, three times a US Open champion, was happy with his opening 69. Net photo.

First round leaderboard:
-4 M Thompson (US)
-1 T Woods (US),     D Toms (US),     J Rose (Eng)

Others:
Level I Poulter     (Eng)
+3 L Westwood     (Eng),     M Warren (Sco)
+6 P Mickelson     (US)
+7 R McIlroy     (NI)
+9 L Donald     (Eng)

SAN FRANCISCO - The electricity was back as Tiger Woods moved into once familiar territory on Thursday, clawing his way into contention with a one-under-par 69 in tough scoring conditions to lie three shots off the U.S. Open lead.

As the year’s second major lived up to its reputation as the toughest championship of all, the former world number one mixed three birdies with two bogeys to finish the first round three behind fellow American Michael Thompson at the Olympic Club.

“I played well today,” three-times champion Woods told reporters after breaking 70 in the opening round of a U.S. Open for the first time since 2002 with a superb display of course management on a firm and fast-running layout.

“I felt like I had control of my game all day. I’m really excited how I was able to execute my game plan all day today. The golf course was really quick.

Woods was one of just six players who broke par, ending the round tied for second with fellow Americans Nick Watney and David Toms, Britain’s Justin Rose and 2010 champion Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland.

Watney capped a memorable display in glorious afternoon sunshine with a rare albatross two at the par-five 17th, holing out with a five-iron from the fairway for only the third double-eagle ever recorded at a U.S. Open.

The little known Thompson, who tied for 29th in his only previous U.S. Open appearance in 2008, upstaged the game’s biggest names by carding a seven-birdie 66 on the challenging, hilly Lake Course.

Though Thompson bogeyed three of the first six holes - a stretch widely regarded as the most difficult start in the majors - he then surged up the leaderboard with six birdies in bright sunshine to take control of the tournament.

American world number six Matt Kuchar, 2003 U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk, Swede Robert Karlsson and Britain’s Ian Poulter were among a group of eight locked on 70.

Most of the players struggled on the tight fairways and surprisingly quick greens, Phil Mickelson carding a 76, defending champion Rory McIlroy a 77, Masters champion Bubba Watson a 78 and world number one Luke Donald a nine-bogey 79.

 

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