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Michael Thompson shoots 4-under 66, leads US Open
Tiger Woods shoots 69, is 3 shots back
US Open Championship  Heal
Michael Thompson hits a drive on the 18th hole during the first round of the U.S. Open Championship golf tournament Thursday at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. Thompson shot a 4-under 66 to take the lead. - photo by Associated Press

1. Michael Thompson   -4
T2. Tiger Woods          -1
T2. David Toms           -1
T2. Rickie Fowler         -1
T2. Ryo Ishikawa         -1
T2. James Hahn           -1

T46. Davis Love III    +3               
T46. Blake Adams      +3
T46. Brian Harman     +3
T104. Phil Mickelson   +6
T133. Bubba Watson   +8

SAN FRANCISCO — A quick look at the first round of the U.S. Open at The Olympic Club (all times EDT):

Leading: Michael Thompson, playing in his first U.S. Open, shot a 4-under 66 and was three shots ahead of the field.

Just behind: Tiger Woods shot 69, as did David Toms, Nick Watney, Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell.

Tiger watch: Woods played in the featured pairing, beating Phil Mickelson by seven shots and Bubba Watson by nine.

Defending champ: Rory McIlroy shot a 77.

World No. 1: Luke Donald, the top player in the world attempting to win his first major championship shot a 79.

Trouble at the top: The threesome of Donald, McIlroy and Lee Westwood, the top three players in the world, shot a combined 19-over par.

Key pairings: 10:44 a.m.: Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy; 4:18 p.m.: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson.

Television: Today: noon-3 p.m., ESPN; 3-5 p.m., NBC; 5-10 p.m., ESPN.

    SAN FRANCISCO — The lead at the U.S. Open belonged to Michael Thompson. The buzz came from Tiger Woods.
    Even as Thompson strung together four birdies on the back nine at Olympic Club that carried him to a 4-under 66, Woods put on a clinic on the other side of the course on how to handle the toughest test in golf.
    He has never out of position. None of his tee shots found the deep, nasty rough lining the fairways. There was little stress for such a demanding major.
    With consecutive birdies late in his round, including a 35-foot putt that banged into the back of the cup on No. 5, Woods opened with a 1-under 69 to raise hopes that he can finally end that four-year drought in the majors.
    "I felt like I had control of my game all day," Woods said. "Just stuck to my game plan — and executed my game plan."
    He was vague on the details of that plan, though it surely wasn't the one followed by the other two guys in his star-powered group. Phil Mickelson hit a wild hook for his opening tee shot that was never found, presumably lost in a cypress tree, and he matched his worst opening round in a U.S. Open at 76. Bubba Watson chopped his way through the rough to a 78, showing that "Bubba Golf" works better at Augusta National than at Olympic Club.
    Only three players broke par from the 78 players who teed off in the morning. David Toms played his own version of U.S. Open golf, relying on a solid short game and the right attitude for a 69.
    "You really just have to concentrate, give it your all on every shot and never give in to the golf course, because it will punish you if your attitude is not good, if your concentration is not good," Toms said. "There's just too many hard shots out there to really ever give in to it and not be there."
    The other "Big Three" at this major — Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, the top three in the world ranking — all were 4 over at the turn. The highlight came from Nick Watney, who made a 2 on the par-5 17th by holing a 5-iron from 190 yards. It was the second albatross in a major this year, following Louis Oosthuizen on the second hole in the final round at the Masters.
    All that did was put Watney back at even par as he played his second nine in the afternoon.
    Thompson's game seems to work on this quirky, tree-lined course built on the side of a giant dune that separates the Pacific Ocean from Lake Merced.
    He was runner-up in the 2007 U.S. Amateur at Olympic Club and couldn't wait to get back.
    After a roller coaster of a front nine that featured consecutive bogeys and holing a bunker shot for birdie on the downhill par-3 third hole, Thompson hit his stride on the back nine, even if hardly anyone was watching.
    He made five consecutive 3s — three of them birdies — and closed his dream round with a 10-foot birdie putt on the short, tough 18th for the lead. Thompson took only 22 putts.
    "On the back side, the putter ... seems like every putt went in the hole," said Thompson, a 27-year-old playing his first U.S. Open as a pro. "Got a little nervous there once all those cameras showed up. It's always a little bit of an adjustment. In that sense, I kind of wish I was Phil or Tiger, because you get the cameras from the beginning."
    There weren't enough cameras or fans to find Mickelson's opening tee shot, but it was easy to find Woods.
    He missed only four fairways — three of them that ran off the severe slopes and into the first cut, the other into a bunker on the 256-yard seventh hole, which is where he was aiming. The only glitch was failing to get the ball closer to the hole with short irons, including the 14th when it landed on the back of the green and bounced off the base of the grandstand.
    That led to one of his two bogeys, the other at No. 6 with a poor bunker shot. The only surprise was a good one — the 35-foot birdie putt on the fifth that he struck too hard and worried it might lead to a three-putt until the hole got in the way.
    "Five was a fluke," Woods said. "That putt was off the green."
    Olympic wasn't that simple for most everyone else.
    Watson was asked about his strategy of hitting his pink-painted driver. "I shot 8 over, so not very good," he said. The next question was how he played out of the rough with short irons in his hand. "I shot 8 over, so not very good," he said.
    "You could answer these yourself," he said.
    A marine layer in the morning allowed for cool, overcast conditions that eventually gave way to sunshine. That didn't help. Steve Marino opened with an 84. Zach Johnson didn't feel as though he played all that badly until he signed for a 77. Padraig Harrington thought the course was fair, and allowed for good scores. But he had two four-putts and a three-putt that ruined a reasonable day and gave him a 74.
    "It just goes to show that firm greens scare the life out of professional golfers," Harrington said.
    Mickelson was looking forward to playing with Woods — the last time they were together, Lefty closed with a 64 and buried him at Pebble Beach in February — but he could not have envisioned a worse start. The hook was bad enough. But as Mickelson approached the gallery and looked for a crowd surrounding his ball, his eyes widened when a marshal told him, "No one heard it come down."
    Five minutes later, he was on his way back to the tee.