Michael Thompson (Thursday Flash)
Score: 66 ‑ 4
Q. It was a hell of a job considering the speed of the course today.
MICHAEL THOMPSON: Yeah, I know. This is one of my favorite golf courses. So I've got good feelings coming in here. I just got the putter hot today.
Q. Is that what it was? Bubba, Phil were all saying, even Tiger, just how fast and how fast it changed from practice round to first round.
MICHAEL THOMPSON: Yeah, they were definitely a lot faster from the practice rounds and I just was fortunate enough to leave myself in good positions where I can get up‑and‑down just usually below the hole. And fairly simple chips.
Then the times when I did hit the green, I left myself with good putts. And the putter's my favorite club in the bag and the club that I have the most confidence in. So for me putting comes easy and I just try to stay within my routine and hit good putts and fortunately today they found the bottom of the hole.
Q. Can you give us an example of a hole where you left yourself in a good position because you know the course and have played here several times?
MICHAEL THOMPSON: Let's see here, I didn't get up‑and‑down on 1, but I just was short of the green there.
On 3 I missed it left to a back right pin and holed out the bunker shot.
Q. Were you purposely going left?
MICHAEL THOMPSON: Purposely aiming for the left of the green. I play a fade and I tried work it back to the green and I just hit a straight shot. I hit a great bunker shot then too.
Other times, like 16, with a front pin there, I had 160 yards to the front and I just tried to land it just shy of the green and have it kick up. And it stayed short of the green, but at least I was putting uphill or chipping uphill. And I got up‑and‑down on that hole.
Q. Was there anything that happened in 2007 that maybe taught you those lessons?
MICHAEL THOMPSON: Yeah, I think there's just familiarity with the golf course. Knowing, 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.
And it's a little bit different this week with all the shaved areas off the greens. That really makes it kind of difficult and makes the shot coming into the green a little bit tougher. And so, I don't know, I just tried to go out with as much confidence as I could today and stick to my routine and I guess just be confident no matter what.
Q. How do you prepare for a course like this?
MICHAEL THOMPSON: Well I was fortunate enough that I was able to come out on Friday. So I got to prepare on‑site. And that was really big to be able to spend three full days really with nobody out here, I had the chipping green, putting green, all to myself. I really got some good practice.
Because, come tournament time, all the practice facilities are really, really hectic. A lot of, we like to, I like to describe it all as like a big cocktail party. Just a lot of people and it's hard to get good work done.
That's a big reason why I came out early was to be able to practice out here.
Q. Is part of the local knowledge knowing some of the differences in greens in terms of firmness, like 13 was a lot softer, do you sense there's a much difference between all 18 greens?
MICHAEL THOMPSON: I thought they were pretty consistent. I wouldn't know about 13 because my ball didn't land on the green. I hit it in the right bunker.
I can see why they would make a green like that softer with that shaved area. If you miss the green left there it's going down in the hazard.
But I thought they were pretty consistent. You just know they're going to be U.S. Open they're going to be firm and fast. And I got kind of a wake up call on the first hole, I missed my par putt, because I didn't realize the greens were that fast. They looked fast, but I hit it probably four feet by and had to make a comeback for bogey. That kind of woke my senses up a little bit. From then on I just trying to flow, take one shot at a time, like everybody says, and just go play.
Q. Was this about as good a start as you could have envisioned?
MICHAEL THOMPSON: It's better than I could have envisioned. I would have taken even par. I probably would have taken 2‑over. It's a U.S. Open. Right around even's going to win.
I don't fully expect to stay at 4‑under, it would be great if I was to improve on that, but this is a long week and the person who outlasts and is the most patient all week is the person who is going to win.
Q. What did you think of Andy Zhang?
MICHAEL THOMPSON: I played eight holes with him yesterday and the kid has game. When I was 14 I couldn't play like that. And I told him to just go out and enjoy it. It is your first experience with crowds, I told him, for me, it took me roughly about a year or so to experience crowds like they have out here and really be able to handle it.
I told him to let it, let all the people kind of blend into the trees, become part of the background, and I think he has a good head on his shoulders, because he's surrounded by good people, David Leadbetter is out here working with him, Chris who is caddying for him, played golf at Maryland, so, and he's playing mini‑tour golf, so he's well taken care of. It's just a matter of him kind of having the right mindset and just enjoying it. Because it is an experience he's going to remember forever.