Mud balls a big factor at Bethpage


FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – Tiger Woods said Friday that mud, and not the potential for more rain tomorrow and Sunday, will be the biggest nuisance for the remainder of the U.S. Open. Woods finished his first round Friday with a double bogey and two bogeys on three of his last four holes, shooting a 4-over-par 74.

The defending champion said he had at least three mud balls on Friday, including one on No. 16 which directly led to a bogey. Woods had mud on the left side of his ball on 16, and tried to draw the ball on his approach and hit a slice over the green. He then chipped 6 feet past the hole and missed the putt for a bogey, which came on the heels of a double-bogey on No. 15.

'The fairways have dried out enough where you're getting just a little mud (on the ball),' said Woods. 'It's only going to get worse, unless we get more rain. If you take the chance of carrying one out there (to the fairway), you also take the chance of getting more mud.'

Woods would not use the conditions as an excuse, however, suggesting that the players teeing off this afternoon and tomorrow morning might have it even worse because the drier the course gets, the softer and muddier it will play. And the USGA has been adamant about not allowing players to lift, clean and place the ball.

'I'm even par with four to go and I'm right where I want to be,' said Woods. 'Two bad shots and one mud ball later and here we go, I am 4 over par. I hit a lot of good shots. Unfortunately, I didn't finish off the round the way I needed to.'