Know what I want for Father's Day?
I want to be left the hell alone.
I plan to play golf in the morning and watch the 4th round of the U.S. Open all afternoon into prime time. Is that too much to ask?
Someone by the name of Michael Thompson fired a four under 66 for the lead at the Lakes course at the Olympic Club in San Francisco (for decades papers simply kept the headline "Unknown Leads U.S. Open" at the ready for Friday sports sections) but Tiger Woods and a host of familiar names are on the first page of the leader board.
Woods leads a group of five well-known golfers three shots back at -1. Thompson played collegiate golf at Alabama and lost in the finals of the U.S. Amateur on the same Olympic Course. It is expected that he will go the way of other semi-obscure first round leaders -- such as Marty Fleckman and T.C. Chen, and fade away.
Thompson earned his 4 under 66 the way most U.S. Open rounds in the 60's are formed. He had an incredible 22 putts for the 18 holes.
Woods fired a 69, his first opening round under 70 in the Open in 10 years. The other members of his highlighted group - Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson -- had miserable days. Both had trouble staying in the tight fairways. Mickelson ended up with a 6-over 76, two shots better that Bubba's 78,
Others at 69 include David Toms, Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell, and Nick Watney.
The Lakes course is set up in the normal manner by the USGA, which means it was narrow fairways, heavy rough with greens so slick they look "bikini-waxed"
The Olympic Club is the country's oldest athletic club and has 45 holes on the premises. The Lakes Course is an odd collection that includes a par 4 (#7) that is only 280 yards and then on the back nine is has Par 5's back-to-back. Number 16 is the longest par five in Open history (670 yards) while 17 is only 525 yards and the easiest hole on the course.
The first six holes are considered to be the most brutal opening for any major -- they include three par 4's that reach almost 500 yards each as well as a 235-yard par 3. Woods is on record as saying anyone who could make it through those holes at even par will win going away.
Surviving those quick greens is the key to winning the Open. Aside from Thompson's ridiculous 22 putts for a round, the other leaders also putted well. Woods had only 29 putts and displayed a total control of his swing as he maneuvered the ball around the tight course. Woods doesn't overpower courses anymore -- he averaged 290 yards a drive today -- but he hit 11 out of 18 greens.
David Thoms had only 26 putts on his way to his 69 and Nick Watney had 28. speaking of Watney, he made a little history on the par 5 17th (his 8th hole of the day). Watney fired a 195-yard 5-iron onto the green and into the hole for a rare albatross (double eagle 2). He was three over standing in the fairway and walked off the 17th green even par for the day.
Watney has an Austin connection. In 2010, he married UT grad Amber Uresti. Amber's dad, Rusty, has caddied for years on the tour, and her uncle, Omar, has been a touring pro for a couple of decades.
Longhorns Past, Present & Future at the U.S. Open
UT is well represented at this years Open. Bob Estes, 46, is playing in his 14th open. Estes opened the tournament with a 4-over 74.
Freshman Jordan Spieth fresh off helping Texas win the National Championship, also had a 74. Spieth averaged over 305 yards a drive but only hit 8 out of 18 greens in regulation and needed 32 putts to complete the round.
17-year old Beau Hossler, who is a junior at Santa Margarita High School, California has verbally committed to Texas. He is in the Top Ten after the first round thanks to an even par 70, where he had three birdies and three bogies with only 27 putts.
There will be 10 hours of live action from the Open tomorrow on TV.
ESPN will go live from the Olympic Club from 11:00am to 2:00pm, then the action moves to NBC for two hours before moving back to ESPN from 4:00pm to 9:00pm.
Spieth and Watney are playing together and they tee off on Friday at 9:59 central. Beau Hossler tees off at 2:30 central, Bob Estes at 4:02 pm.
The celebrity triumvirate of Woods, Mickelson and Watson will start play at 3:18 pm.