SAN FRANCISCO – Not many would’ve predicted Michael Thompson would be atop the leaderboard during Round 1 of the U.S. Open here at The Olympic Club. But, now looking back on it, maybe it’s not such a shock that he shot 66.
For starters, there always is a surprise leader in the first round of the U.S. Open. Secondly, Thompson went to the University of Alabama, and the CrimsonTide have been on a roll this year with national championships in both football and women’s golf. The men’s golf team just finished runner-up two weeks ago to Texas at Riviera.
Finally, and more importantly, Thompson was a finalist at the U.S. Amateur here at Olympic in 2007, losing narrowly in the championship match to Colt Knost. Thompson loves the course and says it suits his eye.
“I think it’s a huge advantage,” Thompson said. “I just fed off those vibes.”
Still, this is only Thompson’s third major championship, his first as a professional. Perks of finishing runner-up in the ’07 Amateur were trips to the Masters and U.S. Open the following year. Thompson missed the cut in the Masters, but tied for 29th in the Open and was low amateur.
Thompson played brilliantly here Thursday and never really got into any trouble that a U.S. Open can present. He made seven birdies – four on the back nine – and three bogeys on the round.
It all goes back to those good vibes Thompson was talking about. In fact, he has such an affinity for this course and this area that he and wife Rachel are staying with the same family Michael stayed with in 2007 during the U.S. Amateur. That family, Jim and Joanne Hickman, live on Lombard Street, San Fran’s famed crookedest street in the world.
“This is just a bonus in my career,” Thompson said. “I’m not guaranteed into all the majors as a professional. And to be able to have the opportunity to play is just a wonderful experience.”
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