U.S. OPEN: Olympic Club holds field at bay in Round 1

Quiet please. One-hundred and 56 players are taking arguably golf’s toughest test of the year.
Round 1 of the 112th U.S. Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco is in the books. The quizzical attributes of the Lake Course had some baffled – in true U.S. Open form. The Major, where even-par can equal a trophy on Sunday and underdogs are favorites if favorites exist at all, has a reputation of humanizing the fiercest competitors.
Thursday was no different. Michael Thompson leads the pack at 4-under, using seven birdies to post a 66. He is one of just six to finish the day under par. Nine others are at even, and 141 of the 156 starting had days over par.
“Feeling really calm and relaxed,” Thompson said afterward. “I had a game plan going in. I’ve been here from Friday practicing, so I felt really comfortable on the course.”
Large galleries trailed the Big Three of golf – Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson – who were group together Thursday. Woods carded a 1-under 69, leaving him tied for second after Day 1, However, respective rounds of 6-over and 8-over from Mickelson and Watson validated concerns voiced earlier in the week.
Practice sessions Monday through Wednesday linked players with the operative word of the tournament – test. The PGA’s best expected to be greeted not concisely a physical examination, but also a true probing of mental  capability as well.
“Playing in The Open, you know it’s going to be a test of golf,” 2012 Masters champion  Watson said Tuesday. “You know it’s going to be a fun test, a very difficult test.  It’s going to require mental focus that you’ve never had on most golf tournaments.”
Defending champion Rory McIlroy is certainly aware of the challenges that lay ahead as he is tries for back-to-back U.S. Open victories – a feat only completed by Curtis Strange (1988-89.)
“You can look at every hole here and you can pick out something that’s tough about it,” he said. “All 18 holes this week are going to be crucial.”
McIlroy won his championship at Congressional. His only other U.S. Open appearance came in 2010 at Pebble Beach.
“It’s going to be a tough test, McIlroy said.”
He shot a 7-over-par, 77.
Holes No. 1 through No. 6 at the Olympic Club’s Lake Course, which includes a 520-yard Par 4 at No. 1 (the third longest Par 4 in U.S. Open history), is regarded as the lush territory’s toughest stretch. The tree-lined, undulous Par-70 Lake Course measures 7,170 yards in all and also features the longest Par 5 in tournament history – the 670-yard 16th.
“You have to curve it more off the tees here than any other golf course that we play,” Woods added prior to his first round.
“That’s the neat thing about this golf course is it seems like the majority of the doglegs kind of run away from you,” Woods, the 2000, 2002 and 2008 U.S. Open champion continued. “And it puts a big premium on shaping the ball.  But also it puts a big premium on game planning, what you want to do, where you want to hit it, and being committed to that.”
The talk Thursday was Woods, who played the difficult No. 1 through No. 6 gauntlet minus-1 and efficiently disected the twisting fairways.
“I played well today,” Woods said Thursday. “I felt like I had control of my game and just stuck to my game plan and executed my game plan.”
Most of the field, however, will have to be committed to making a charge to the weekend as Round 2 begins today.

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