Round 1, Take 2: US Open tries it again Friday, after rain prevails on Day 1 at Bethpage BlackBy Tim Reynolds, AP
Friday, June 19, 2009
With better forecast, US Open resumes at Bethpage
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Tiger Woods swung away on the 18th tee Friday morning, watched his ball fly into a bunker on the way to another bogey, and turned away in disgust.
Little came easily for the world’s No. 1 player after the resumption of the rain-delayed U.S. Open.
A couple of amateurs, meanwhile, had less trouble than most navigating soggy Bethpage Black.
Woods gave back four shots over his final four holes to finish his opening round at 4-over 74, placing him five shots behind a group that included U.S. amateur standout and former Virginia Tech player Drew Weaver, who finished with a 1-under 69 in what’s already the third major of his career.
“I was even par with four to go,” Woods said. “I mean, it’s not like I was hitting it all over the place. I was hitting a lot of good shots. Unfortunately, I just didn’t finish off the round the way I needed to.”
So unlike what happened on his last trip to Bethpage in 2002, this U.S. Open won’t be a wire-to-wire victory for Woods.
After a double-bogey and two bogeys in his final four holes, he’s already got some work to do.
The question is, when will he resume?
Woods’ side of the field will not start its second round until Saturday, when more rain is expected to pound the waterlogged course. The U.S. Open hasn’t had a 72-hole Monday finish since 1983, but any significant interruption in play over the coming days would likely ensure that no champion will be crowned on Sunday.
Bethpage was playable again Friday, with crews having drained much of the inch-plus of water that pounded the Black course throughout Thursday.
“I think we’re all a bit shocked at how well the golf course has held up, really,” said Graeme McDowell, part of the early group finishing at 69.
But the course doesn’t seem like it could take much more rain, and with another inch or more possible Saturday, the USGA is already bracing for a Monday finish.
And yes, Tuesday has even been discussed.
“That’s possible,” USGA executive director David Fay said.
There’s one advantage to extra rain, Woods said. It’ll keep mud off the balls, and since the USGA positively forbids the “lift, clean and place” policy seen at many other events, mud will be an issue as the course gets tackier and drier.
“It’s only going to get worse, unless we get more rain,” said Woods, who lauded Bethpage’s condition for Friday’s play and headed back to the driving range after finishing his round. “If it dries out a little more, this is going to get interesting.”
Weaver knows he’s going to be waiting around for a while before the second round begins.
He can deal with that.
Weaver was just leaving a Virginia Tech classroom building on that fateful day in 2007, just as someone began a shooting rampage that left 32 people dead. The deranged student assassin then took his own life.
That summer, Weaver won the British Amateur, earning him a spot in the British Open. He played the Masters last year as well, and now, he found himself on the top of a leaderboard at a major championship.
“I’m very fortunate in that aspect,” Weaver said. “I’ve gotten a good amount of experience and although I haven’t really made a cut, I feel like I’ve played a lot of good rounds. Everything’s coming together and I’m off to a good start.”
Another amateur, Cameron Tringale, finished the first round at even par. Tringale won four tournaments during his career at Georgia Tech.
“This is one of the better group of amateurs that’s come out of college,” Weaver said. “I think it bodes well for the Walker Cup. I think we’ll have a strong team. Guys are just getting better and taking advantage of all the resources.”
Plans called for the first round to be completed by about 5:30 p.m. Friday, with the second round starting a bit beforehand. Ideally, the second round would be finished to establish the cut by day’s end Saturday, although the forecast seems to suggest that’s simply wishful thinking.
Minutes after Woods finished, Phil Mickelson — a favorite of the Bethpage gallery, especially now after the news that his wife Amy is about to begin treatment for breast cancer — began his U.S. Open on the 10th tee, with the gallery stretching nearly the length of a football field past the tee. Mickelson’s quest opened with a drive well off the fairway, and drew an ovation anyway.
Among other early finishers of the first round: Jeff Brehaut and Ian Poulter were at even par, Justin Leonard — who started Friday with two quick birdies — finished 1 over, Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk were 2 over while Steve Stricker and Geoff Ogilvy were among those at 3 over.
It wasn’t a good day to be a reigning major champion: Playing alongside Woods, Masters champ Angel Cabrera finished 4 over, two shots better than British Open and PGA Championship winner Padraig Harrington.
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