Doug LaBelle II and Kyle Thompson share second place at 5-under-par 66. Canada's Glen Hnatiuk is alone in fourth place at 4-under-par 67 at The Glen Club.
Nicholas Thompson began his opening round on the back nine and parred his first two holes. He knocked a 9-iron to 6 feet to set up birdie at the 12th, then holed out a lob-wedge from 100 yards out for an eagle. He two-putted from 40 feet for a birdie at the par-5 18th to make the turn at 4-under-par 31.
Nicholas Thompson made it two in a row with another two-putt birdie from 40 feet at the par-5 first. He hit a terrible drive at the second and left with a bogey, but good things were ahead.
At the par-3 fourth, Nicholas Thompson hit a 9-iron to 8 feet to set up birdie. His second birdie in a row came from 4 feet at the par-5 fifth, then made it three straight with an 18-footer at the 480-yard sixth hole. He parred the seventh hole then tapped in a short birdie putt at the eighth to get to minus-8. He bogeyed the ninth to finish at minus-7, but still has a two-shot lead after round one.
'I played solid,' said Nicholas Thompson. 'I played really good, I'm not complaining at all. Anytime you do shoot low it gives you confidence. I'm hitting it better and putting it better. It makes me smile.'
Nicholas Thompson is headed to Winged Foot next week for the U.S. Open. He qualified at Canoe Brook, the same site Michelle Wie missed her chance at playing at the PGA TOUR's second major of the season. His play on Thursday left him encouraged.
'This is a good test for the U.S. Open,' he said. 'I'm looking forward to next week. My dad is going to be on my bag so it will be fun. I wanted to play the week before. There's nothing like competition to get ready.'
Joe Daley, Nick Flanagan, Scott Petersen, Dan Forsman, Michael Long and John Ellis are knotted in fifth place at 3-under-par 68.