Sports / Golf

Golfer Thompson feels calm after 1st round lead

(Agencies) Updated: 2012-06-15 17:27

SAN FRANCISCO - There is something about the hilly Olympic Club and its ultra-challenging Lake Course that seems to bring out the very best in Michael Thompson.

Five years ago, Thompson reached the final of the US amateur championship played at the revered venue to the south of the Golden Gate Bridge before he lost to fellow American Colt Knost 2&1.

On a sun-kissed Thursday morning, Thompson tamed lightning-fast greens at Olympic with a sizzling putting display to take the first-round lead at the US Open.

Golfer Thompson feels calm after 1st round lead

Michael Thompson of the US hits his approach shot to the 18th green during the first round of the 2012 US Open golf tournament on the Lake Course at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, California, June 14, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

"This is one of my favourite golf courses, so I've got good feelings coming in here," the 27-year-old reporters after firing a four-under-par 66.

"There's just familiarity with the golf course, remembering certain spots that I have been in before. You play the course 15, 20 times, you're going to know where to hit it and where not to, and what side of the hole's best (to leave the ball).

"I'm feeling really calm and relaxed. I had a game plan going in. I've been here from Friday practising, so I felt really comfortable on the course."

Thompson, a rookie on the PGA Tour last year who booked his place in this week's field via a sectional qualifier in Rockville, Maryland, believes he has another advantage over many of his rivals at Olympic.

Although the US Open is being staged at the California venue for a fifth time, every green on the par-70 layout has been re-surfaced since the championship was previously played here in 1998.

Different course

"There's a lot of guys out on Tour, especially some of the older guys, who haven't seen the course since '98 and it's very, very different from then," Thompson said.

"I played 11 rounds in nine or 10 days and when you play a golf course that many times you're going to know where to hit it," he added, referring to the 2007 US amateur.

"I just fed off those vibes. I hit a lot of good shots and made a lot of good putts that week, and obviously I'm off to a great start this week."

Thompson is quite happy to keep flying under the radar this week, given that 14-times major champion Tiger Woods ended the opening round just three strokes behind him.

"Obviously my name's in the spotlight, but a lot of people don't know who I am," said Thompson, whose best PGA Tour finish was third place at last year's McGladrey Classic.

"And I'm totally okay with that because I've always been a player that just kind of hangs around. I don't give up very easily and I'm very proud of that.

"Give Tiger the spotlight. I don't care. I'm going to go out and play my game. If I go out and putt the way I did today, I'll be in contention."

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