SAN FRANCISCO - Michael Thompson has the lead at the U.S. Open with almost half of the field finished its first round.
The 27-year-old from Tuscon, Ariz., had seven birdies and three bogeys en route to a 4-under-par 66 at Olympic Club Thursday. Tiger Woods, in search of his 15th major title, is lurking, just three shots back after a solid 69.
Canadian Stephen Ames, meanwhile, put himself in good shape with an opening 74.
Thompson, who putted superbly on the Lake Course's lightning quick greens, admitted to getting a little nervous when the cameras showed up. Then again, he feels he has nothing to lose this week.
"This is just a bonus in my career," Thompson said. "I'm not guaranteed (entry) into all the majors as a professional. And to be able to have the opportunity to play is just a wonderful experience."
Woods was the shining light of the star-studded threesome that also included Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson. Mickelson lost his ball on his first shot of the day and carded a 76, while Watson was all over the course and shot 78.
"That was the old Tiger," Watson said. "That was beautiful to watch. That's what we all come to see. That's what we all want to watch and that was awesome to see him strike the ball good. He made a couple bogeys, but under par on this golf course is pretty good."
Woods, who is coming off a victory at the Memorial two weeks ago, was happy with his round, and rightly so. He birdied the ridiculously tough par-4 fourth and fifth holes as well as the par-5 17th. His only hiccups were on the par-4 sixth and 14th holes.
"I'm really excited how I was able to execute my game plan all day today," Woods said.
Ames, who was playing in a group behind Woods, Mickelson and Watson, started slowly with two bogeys on the first three holes and then made three in a row on Nos. 2 through 4. He got it back with a birdie on the short, par-4 7th.