In the end, he had a lot to smile about,
such as invitations to next year’s Masters
and U.S. Open at Merion GC, not to mention $695,916 in his pocket, his biggest
paycheck to date and a jump to 52nd on
the World Ranking. He also earned a level
of respect from his peers.
As he entered the locker room after
Thursday’s effort, in which he played
the last 12 holes in six under—playing
alongside Knost—he ran into Zach
Johnson, who staggered back when
he saw Thompson, as if he’d just taken
a right cross from the younger man.
“Dude. Dude!” Johnson sputtered.
“That was awesome.”
On Sunday, former PGA champion Da-
vid Toms got a closer look at the Univer-
sity of Alabama product who transferred
from Tulane after Hurricane Katrina
forced the program to disband. “His
short game was incredible,” said Toms,
who tied for fourth despite a sore right
hip that could keep him out of the British
Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. “He’s
got plenty of length to play out here for a
long time, and his demeanor on the golf
course is fantastic. He seems to be having
fun and in control of his emotions, and he
played great today.”
The only faltering moment came on
the par- 5 17th when Thompson sized
up a five-footer for birdie and then
belted it through the break. Converting
it, though he didn’t know it at the time
having finished an hour and a half before
the eventual champ, would have gotten
him into a playoff with Simpson. “His
speed had been perfect all day. I’m sure
that was a bit of nerves,” Toms said.
Nevertheless, Thompson was buoyed
by the results.
“I’m excited because now I know
I can do it,” he said. “I love USGA
events. I honestly have fun during
USGA events because they’re so challenging. It’s easy for me to get prepared mentally. And then, I don’t know,
I just did really well at going out with
a proper mind-set and I stayed patient,
the chances will come. I believe
in myself.” N
Timeline By Ryan Herrington
8: 33 a.m.
Maureen Reynolds is among a dozen people sitting in
the grandstand behind the 18th hole, engrossed with a
crossword puzzle. “I’m a placeholder,” she says without
hesitation or spite. “I told my husband and two daugh-
ters they could walk around for awhile and I’d hold our
seats. As long as they bring me back something hot to
drink, it’s a fair trade.”
he’s played the Lake course more than 2,000 times, but
as the 53-year-old rolls in his par putt on the 18th hole,
perhaps no round is more sentimental. His closing 73
is greeted with hearty applause as the championship’s
oldest competitor secures a T- 56 finish. “This whole
week has been a great time for me,” Allen says. “A lot of
love shown toward me with the fans and the media.”
9: 21 a.m.
With the first group of the day just off the first tee,
the merchandise pavilion is crowded with spectators
looking to get some last-minute items before taking in
action on the course. The scene has one woman beside
herself. “That’s the most men shopping I’ve ever seen in
my life,” she notes.
3: 12 p.m.
As the final pairing of Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell
amble down the first fairway after their tee shots, a
handful of volunteers remain on the first tee to begin
the process of cleaning. “Mike Davis gave us the
thumbs up as he walked away,” noted one USGA staffer.
“It’s always nice when the boss seems happy.”
12: 45 p.m.
After three days of Chamber of Commerce weather,
Olympic Club is getting hit with the more traditional June
gloom: a combination of fog and occasional mist that will
linger the rest of the afternoon, to the chagrin of some.
“All week all I see on TV is sun-drenched skies but the
one day I come out, we get this foggy filth,” laments one
spectator sitting in the grandstand at the driving range.
3: 56 p.m.
On a day where bad shots will seem to stand out as
much as good ones, Lee Westwood hits his tee ball on
the par- 4 fifth into the trees right of the fairway, as Lee
Janzen did in 1998. Unable to find his ball, Westwood
gets the ego-deflating ride back to the tee.
1: 58 p.m.
Out of the running for the title, Keegan Bradley still
makes his first U. S. Open appearance memorable. On
his final hole, the PGA champion asks his caddie to hand
over his bag to his father, Mark, who proceeds to walk
with Keegan up the 18th fairway. “It was the highlight
of my life,” says Mark, a lifelong club professional. “It
was really a wonderful experience, to be walking in the
fairway with my son.”
Beau Hossler’s transformation from unknown high
schooler to teen sensation reaches its zenith as he walks
toward the eighth green and is engulfed in cheers of
“Let’s go Hoss-ler!” from the crowd. The 17-year-old
amateur acknowledges the crowd, only to hear the
cheers get louder. One onlooker says, “That’ll be on
Longtime Olympic Club member Michael Allen figures
4: 40 p.m.
McDowell and Furyk bogey the par- 4 sixth hole, becoming the last golfers to play the treacherous opening
stretch at Olympic. For the week U. S. Open competitors
will shoot a collective 1,109 over par on the first six
holes, according to ESPN Radio.