The first round of the U.S. Open has produced a tightly packed leaderboard and a largely unknown golfer at the top. Michael Thompson, a 27-year-old player ranked 107th in the world, shot a fabulous 66. At four-under par, he has a three-stroke lead over several big-name players.
Tiger Woods heads that list, being joined by Graeme McDowell, Nick Watney, Justin Rose and David Toms.
Woods played a very conservative approach off the tee, electing to hit irons and fairway metals. He relied on his strong approach game from long distance to post a 69. The key for Woods was getting through holes one through six at one-under par. Tiger tamed the toughest stretch of Olympic Club and is in great position.
Nick Watney had the most dramatic story of those at one-under par. He recorded an albatross (double eagle) on the 17th hole par-five by sinking his approach shot. It is the second albatross at a major this year.
McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champion, finished strong with two straight birdies. He managed his way around the course and took advantage when he had two scoring holes to finish. He displayed the form of golf that won him the Open at Pebble Beach.
The leaderboard is further jam-packed as 16 players are within two strokes of second place. Matt Kuchar, the Players champion this year, is in that group as is the flashy Ian Poulter, veteran Jim Furyk and young Ryo Ishikawa.
Anyone who shot four-over par or better is still in contention. Amazingly, that is nearly half the field, as over 70 players still have a realistic shot at winning the U.S. Open.
However, some very notable players had terrible days. Rory McIlroy and his playing partners, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, looked nothing like the top players in the world. McIlroy shot a 77 while Donald shot a 79. Only Westwood kept himself relevant with a 73.
Bubba Watson, the Masters champion, and Phil Mickelson had meltdowns while playing with Tiger Woods. Watson shot 78 and Mickelson finished with a 76.
With so many players in contention, this is set up to be a wild U.S. Open. Fittingly so, considering the history of memorable finishes at Olympic Club.