They’ll all play together again Friday afternoon.
“Both of those guys couldn’t have been a better pairing for him because both of them are super nice and all three are fairly quiet,” said a most committed viewers, Bulldogs golf coach Chris Haack. Once Thompson took the lead, Haack was not budging from in front of his TV the rest of the morning.
Why would he, since a Georgia golf infomercial was in the making? All three Bulldogs past and present went under par in the first round (both Todd and English shot 68s). No morning threesome could touch their combined 5 under. Not Tiger Woods/Justin Thomas/Collin Morikawa (combined 4 over). Not Rory McIlroy/Adam Scott/Justin Rose (1 over). Not Webb Simpson/Sergio Garcia/Jason Day (7 over).
For Thompson, currently the fourth-ranked amateur in the world and one of 16 amateurs in this Open, the comfort level couldn’t have been higher given the magnitude of the event. He’s known both of his playing partners for years, and just last week back home in Sea Island, was playing with English. “I think Davis beat me by one,” English confessed.
Still, this was his first U.S. Open, first major (not counting the U.S. Amateur). Nerves had to be a factor.
“There were (some nerves), a little bit, obviously, just to get the round going,” Thompson said. “I was comfortable. I play a lot of golf with Harris and Brendon, just them being Georgia guys. So that was a comfortable pairing.”
Three straight birdies will tend to cool the brain, too. With the first on the short par-4 sixth, Thompson hit out of the first cut of rough to five feet. On the par-3 seventh, his tee shot passed directly over the pin and stopped 8 feet away. By No. 8, it was all routine: A 320-yard drive down the middle; 158-yard approach shot to 9 feet; bottom of the cup.
And with each shot, Haack got more and more anxious to get the next college golf season rolling. He’s looking at a lineup that features Thompson, another All American, Trent Phillips, and All-SEC player, Spencer Ralston. “If we could get some help at the bottom (in the lineup) we could be very, very good,” Haack said. The last season, of course, was interrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.
The experience gained by one of his guys on the first round of the U.S. Open can only help come the fall and spring.
“I think for him, he’s just kind of figuring out how good he is and that he can hang out here with probably the best players in the world and that’s what his future is going to be,” said Todd, a three-time PGA Tour winner. “I don’t remember being as confident or as collected or as talented as him at that age, so he’s got a great future.”
“It was a great start,” Thompson said, shaking off the three closing bogeys. “That was kind of one of my main goals coming into this championship, just get off to a good start and not get behind the 8-ball. I’m excited about the rest of the tournament.”