US Open Golf 2012: Best Odds for Top Contenders on Day 2
To the shock of many, Day 1 of the US Open ended with Tiger Woods near the top of the leaderboard.
Prior to the start on Thursday, it was easy to say that Tiger would crumble under the pressure of another major, just like he did at the Masters. It didn't matter that he came into this event with more confidence than he's had in a long time; it didn't matter that he's the healthiest he's been in a while. Tiger still hadn't conclusively proven he was still one of the top dogs in the game.
Now, after the first 18 holes, it's impossible to avoid thinking he's en route to winning his first major since 2008.
Here's a closer look at Tiger and some of the other top contenders after the first day of play at Olympic.
Tiger Woods (6-1, via Bovada)
In order to keep himself in the running to win his first US Open since 2008, Tiger needed to keep himself in contention by the end of the first day. I'll be the first to admit that I thought he'd crumble under the pressure—like he did on Day 1 at Augusta, when he shot a 72 and never did any better for the rest of the tournament—but that wasn't the case this Thursday.
Tiger was clearly ready this time around. You could tell from his pre-tournament comments, from his composure, from his confidence. His one goal on Thursday was to show up his group members, and he did exactly that, leading Phil Mickelson by seven strokes and leading Bubba Watson by nine at day's end.
This year, when Tiger has been near the top of the leaderboard after the first round, he has been very successful. Tiger, more than anything, wants to prove he can still win a major, so look for that to continue.
Michael Thompson (500-1)
Who will be Tiger's toughest competition from here on out?
Yes, you read that right. Thompson entered the US Open with 500-1 odds yet found himself at four-under par at the end of his first day, three strokes ahead of Tiger, the favorite. Granted, that might mean very little by the time Thompson finishes the second round, but perhaps he could be this year's out-of-nowhere winner, which the US Open is infamous for producing.
The most amusing part of Thompson's early surge to the top of the leaderboard is that he didn't play especially well to get there. He bogeyed three holes on the front nine—which, considering the level of difficulty at Olympic, is nothing to be ashamed of—but still. Three bogeys. Fortunately, he canceled them out with three birdies then didn't bogey a single hole on the back nine while birdying four.
This could just be beginner's luck, but if nobody's playing all that well and he continues to conquer this tough course, Thompson could earn what would be his second top-10 finish of the year.
Zach Johnson (33-1)
It was not a good first day for Johnson. In fact, it was one of the worst days he's had in a while. Still, he shouldn't be counted out. Though he did himself no favors with a brutal seven-over performance at Olympic on Day 1—on the front nine alone, he registered four bogeys and one double-bogey—he seemed to improve as the day went on, limiting himself to just one double-bogey and the rest pars.
Prior to the US Open, Johnson had been playing well—he won at Colonial on May 27 and has registered two runner-up finishes since April 15—so perhaps his performance on Thursday was just a matter of shaking out the kinks.
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