FARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' From a horrible Thursday to an awesome Friday, here are some Hooks & Cuts from Bethpage Black:
The U.S. Open went with a soft launch today ' soft spot storylines with Phil Mickelson, Rocco Mediate and David Duval on a very soft golf course.
Phils reception as he walked to his opening tee shot was warm not wild. When he turbo-charged the birdie at 17 the grandstands exploded. People want this to happen.
The Golf Channel stats department puts Tigers driving accuracy from 1995-2003 at 67.31 percent. From 2004-2008 the number drops to 48.41 percent. Thats about the time Tiger changed his swing and changed his coach. The results though have not changed. He still wins.
The U.S. Golf Association did the right thing by offering Thursday ticket holders a Monday make-good.
Tigers worst Round 1 position in any of his major wins was T-33 at the 2005 Masters. He was 19th last year at Torrey Pines after the first day.
Could we get a sustained golf clap for the working-round-the-clock-maintenance crew? Back in the muddy compound yesterday guys tried to catch their breath. Plenty were also catching ZZZs, slumped in chairs as if they just returned from a four-alarm fire.
Guys like Mike Weir, Duval and Peter Hanson in the late-early draw obviously gained an enormous advantage, but its not an indoor game so why belabor the point? Sometimes it rains in the top of the fourth then clears in the bottom half.
Tigers shot 2 under or better in every second round in his 14 major victories, with a second-round scoring average in his major wins of 66.79.
I wrote after the Masters that Phil missed a great chance to dramatically alter his historical standing with a Sunday 62 alongside Tiger. One major later he has a mulligan. Its early, but if it happens it would be the all-time tear jerker, wouldnt it?
Weir arrived in a van at the 10th tee to start his day, hopped out and turned to see the driver take off ' with Mikes clubs still in the back. Weir laughed, in obvious good spirit. The van stopped. Then Mike took off with his hybrid.
Colleague Steve Burkowski ran into Duvals coach Puggy Blackmon, who told him that Davids close. Golf Cchannel analyst Brandel Chamblee says Duvals swing looks different, on a better line at the top, chasing it with his right side. Hes also more confident.
After a depressing Thursday the USGA needed a feel-good, star-studded first round, even if it took two days and even if it came on a golf course too easy for their liking. What the USGA doesnt need is what the weather forecasters are predicting, more horrible rain for the weekend.
Roccos going to sell a few copies of his book, Are You Kidding Me. If he wins Sunday, what do you call the sequel, Are you *&^%ing Kidding Me?
The flipside to the Thursday washout is you get Saturday morning golf starting at 10 a.m. on NBC. I shudder to think that before its done, we might also get Tuesday morning golf. And Wednesday morning golf. But we like golf.
Full Coverage ' 2009 U.S. Open
Leaderboard ' U.S. Open
Man vs. Bethpage
Lerner, a mainstay at Golf Channel since 1997, is an anchor/reporter for Golf Central.