One Interesting Open

By Rich LernerJune 20, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' You know youre in trouble when Al Rokers in the booth at a U.S. Open. Big Al was calling for more bad weather while sparring with NBCs famous lead analyst on the pending forecast.
 
Sorry Al, but Johnny Miller is golfs Rain Man.
 
And just as his Houston-week hunch on Angel Cabrera winning the Masters proved most prescient, Johnnys hunch on the rain staying away proved to be more than wishful thinking from an optimistic golfer.
 
Al caught this weather call a groove low. Johnny heard it.
 
Weve heard more talk about weather this week than at the Weather Channel, more talk about morning waves than at Waikiki, more talk about bad draws than at the World Series of Poker.
 
Under a cloud but at least underway, this is one of the strangest U.S. Opens in recent memory.
 
For goodness sake Azuma Yano and Nick Taylor shot 65.
 
And this isnt Bermuda Dunes. This is Bethpage Black, the Swiss Alps, extreme downhill run that according to the sign posted near the first tee can be hazardous to your health.
 
Playing the Black this soft is like playing Augusta National with slow greens ' not how its supposed to be done.
 
But at least they played.
 
And some really played well. Ricky Barnes held a coming-out party six years after everyone stood outside his door ready to throw down.
 
The 28-year-old with the quarterback looks and the NFL father is top 5 in the youd-like-to-go-bar-hopping-with-this-guy rankings.
 
Branded a cant-miss after winning the U.S. Amateur in 2002, Barnes was handed the keys to the car and the mansion before hed earned it. Hes now humbled and hungry to prove his talents not about to be wasted.
 
And then theres David Duval, whos been where Barnes and every other young player would like to go, to the very top.
 
Its the trip he took from there no ones eager to book.
 
But if Duval can convince himself that he can do this ' that hes done this ' then well have not one but two all-time great stories in play. Phil Mickelsons still the peoples choice and still in good position, but Duval would be a terrific stand-in should Phil falter in that role.
 
A third all-time story would be a monumental Tiger Woods comeback. Hell probably need to go 7 or even 8 under for the final two rounds to even get a sniff.
 
That they played as much golf as they did Saturday was a most pleasant surprise. Yes this U.S. Opens been strange, but it also finally has some momentum. And theres still so much golf to be played.
 
Itll be played with a soundtrack provided by the heartiest, mardi gra-i-est galleries in the world. The volume will be cranked until the end, whenever that may be.
 
When its no longer about the rain men, but one man who will reign supreme.
 
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