SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Michael Thompson settled for second place five years ago at The Olympic Club in the U.S. Amateur.
Sunday, he tied for second with Graeme McDowell at the U.S. Open _ only this time the consolation prize was worth $695,916.
“I knew from the beginning of the week, if I can just shoot right around 1 over every day I would be happy,” said Thompson, who held a three-stroke lead after the first round. “I didn’t expect at all to shoot under par. Then go out and shoot way under par on a U.S. Open is kind of unbelievable.”
Thompson said having played Olympic’s tight, twisting fairways under pressure back in 2007 made a huge difference.
“I think it helped me a ton,” he said. “I learned to love the course. I play a fade, or at least try to. That’s the shot I like. And this little golf course sets up perfect for a fade.”
Thompson finished a dozen groups before the final pairing then had to sweat out the ending. He finished at 2 over, a shot behind winner Webb Simpson.
“I’m so young in my career, I’m just going to take this as a positive experience and build on it and hopefully gain some momentum for the rest of the year,” said Thompson, 27. “I want to make it all the way through the FedEx Cup. That’s one of my goals. So I think this is a great steppingstone for me.”
UP A TREE: If only Lee Westwood had Lee Jansen’s luck, he might have a major championship by now.
While Jansen’s ball tumbled out like a gift from above after several minutes, giving him a chance to pull off a miracle chip-in par en route to a stunning upset of Payne Stewart, Westwood’s disappeared for good.
It wasn’t the same cypress tree that Jansen found, as that tree and numerous others have since been cut down. But it was in the same area.
Westwood used binoculars to try to find his ball Sunday but couldn’t, forcing him back to the tee. He made a double bogey, dropped from three shots back to five off the lead and eventually tied for 10th at 5-over 285.
After winning 35 times worldwide, Westwood is regarded as the best current player to have never won a major.