Weir leads US Open as first round finally closes

By Associated PressJune 19, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' When the sun finally came out Friday afternoon, Bethpage Black dried a bit and was there for the taking.
 
Mike Weir took advantage better than anyone.
 
The Canadian shot a 6-under 64 in his opening round of the rain-delayed U.S. Open, recovering from a three-putt double bogey at No. 6, his 15th hole of the round, by closing with consecutive birdies.
 
Mike Weir
Mike Weir held the first-round lead after a 6-under 64. (Getty Images)
It was the lowest score recorded at Bethpage Black in five rounds of U.S. Open play, topping Nick Faldo's 66 in 2002.
 
Weir was two strokes ahead of Sweden's Peter Hanson. Two slumping British Open champions, David Duval and Todd Hamilton, were at 67. Hamilton only made one bogey in his round, and Duval matched his best U.S. Open score ever.
 
Phil Mickelson, playing before the loudest gallery of the day, challenged for the lead until he started missing short putts on his back nine and settled for a 69.
 
'The soft conditions are great,' Mickelson said. 'The balls that hit the fairways are staying in the fairways. ... The soft conditions are helping.'
 
There are five courses at Bethpage State Park, with only the Black in use this week. Given how much conditions improved as the day rolled along, it just seemed like the morning and afternoon rounds were played on different tracks.
 
Tiger Woods would attest to that.
 
Gray, dreary clouds welcomed those who returned to the rain-delayed tournament in the morning, which seemed to fit Woods' mood.
 
The world's No. 1 player gave back four shots over his final four holes to finish his opening round at 4-over 74. He was five shots out of the clubhouse lead after the morning groups finished, and slid further as the day went along.
 
'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.
 
Not even close.
 
Minutes after Woods finished, Mickelson -- a favorite of the Bethpage gallery, especially after the news that his wife, Amy, is about to begin treatment for breast cancer -- began on the 10th tee.
 
Mickelson's quest opened with a drive well off the fairway, drew an ovation anyway, and the cheers kept rolling.
 
So, too, for Rocco Mediate, who lost the U.S. Open playoff to Woods last year at Torrey Pines. How many times did the New York crowd bellow 'Rocco!' during the day. 'About 4 million times,' Mediate said.
 
Mediate shot 68, settling in four shots back of Weir.
 
Graeme McDowell and amateur Drew Weaver, the former Virginia Tech player, each posted 1-under 69s during the morning. Weaver isn't turning pro because he'd still like to play in the Walker Cup, but this U.S. Open is already his third major, after playing the British Open in 2007 and the Masters in 2008.
 
'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.
 
'This is one of the better groups 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.'
 
It wasn't a good day to be a reigning major champion: Playing alongside Woods, Masters champ Angel Cabrera finished 4 over, and that was still two shots better than British Open and PGA Championship winner Padraig Harrington.
 
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 Monday finish without a playoff since 1983, but any significant interruption in play over the coming days would likely ensure that no champion is crowned before then.
 
The USGA, in fact, is already bracing for a Monday finish. And Tuesday has been discussed.
 
'That's possible,' USGA executive director David Fay said.
 
There's one advantage to extra rain, Woods said. It will keep mud off the balls, and since the USGA positively forbids the 'lift, clean and place' policy seen often used on the PGA Tour, 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.'
 
The second round started late Friday afternoon. Ideally, the second round would be finished to establish the cut by day's end Saturday, although the forecast seems to suggest that's doubtful.
 
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    McIlroy needs putter to heat up to catch Woods

    By Rex HoggardSeptember 23, 2018, 12:29 am

    ATLANTA – Although Rory McIlroy is three strokes behind Tiger Woods at the Tour Championship and tied for second place he had the look of a man with a secret when he left East Lake on Saturday.

    Trying to play catch up against Woods is never ideal, but McIlroy’s confidence stemmed from a tee-to-green game that has been unrivaled for three days.

    “I definitely think today and the first day were similar,” said McIlroy, whose 66 included birdies at two of his final three holes. “I gave myself plenty of chances, and I think the biggest thing today was only just that one bogey. Got to put your ball in the fairway, put yourself in position, and for the most part, I did that today.”


    Projected FedExCup standings

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    For the week McIlroy ranks first in strokes gained: off the tee, third in strokes gained: approach to the green and second in greens in regulation. But to catch Woods, who he will be paired with, he’ll need a much better day on the greens.

    The Northern Irishman needed 30 putts on Day 2 and ranks 23rd, out of 30 players, in strokes gained: putting.

    McIlroy skipped the first playoff event, opting instead for an extra week at home to work on his swing and the move has paid off.

    “I hit the ball well. My wedge play has been really good,” he said. “I've done a lot of work on it the last few weeks, and it seems to have paid off.”

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    Glover trails Straka at Web.com Tour Championship

    By Associated PressSeptember 23, 2018, 12:19 am

    ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Sepp Straka moved into position Saturday to earn a PGA Tour card in the Web.com Tour Championship, shooting a 7-under 64 to take the third-round lead.

    With the top 25 earners in the four-event Web.com Tour Finals getting PGA Tour cards Sunday, Straka birdied the final three holes to reach 18-under 195 - a stroke ahead of Curtis Luck, Lucas Glover and Denny McCarthy at Atlantic Beach Country Club.

    ''It's always good to get an extra birdie in late. I got three of them to finish, which was nice,'' Straka said. ''It's very bunched up there, so you can't really take off, you've got to keep the pedal down and see where you end up at the end.''

    Straka entered the week tied for 80th in the card race with $2,744. The 25-year-old former Georgia player from Austria won the KC Golf Classic in August for his first Web.com Tour title. He finished 31st on the money list to advance to the four-tournament series.

    ''My ball-striking is really good,'' Straka said. ''It's been good all week. It's been really solid. I really haven't gotten in a whole lot of trouble and have been able to capitalize on a good number of chances with the putter. Hit a couple of bad putts today, but some really good ones to make up for it.''


    Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


    Luck also shot 64. The 22-year-old Australian went into the week 16th with $41,587.

    ''Obviously, it just comes down to keeping that momentum going and trying not to change anything,'' Luck said. ''That's the really important thing and I felt like I did that really well. I played really aggressive on the back nine, still went after a lot of shots and I hit it close a lot out there.''

    Glover had a 68. The 2009 U.S. Open champion entered the week 40th with $17,212.

    McCarthy shot 67. He already has wrapped up a card, earning $75,793 in the first three events to get to 11th in the standings.

    The series features the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for the 25 cards based on series earnings.

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    Woods, McIlroy in Sunday super group in finale

    By Mercer BaggsSeptember 23, 2018, 12:12 am

    ATLANTA – Rory McIlroy has made known his disdain for “super groups” in early tournament rounds.

    Well, he’s now got one on Sunday at the Tour Championship. And it doesn’t get more super than this.

    McIlroy will play alongside Tiger Woods in the final pairing, in the final round at East Lake Golf Club. Woods leads McIlroy – and Justin Rose – by three shots.


    Projected FedExCup standings

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    “All I can do is worry about myself,” McIlroy said. “It doesn't matter who it is I'm playing with. It's obviously exciting for the golf tournament. It's exciting for golf, in general, that he's up there. But for me, all I can do is concentrate on myself. The game is hard enough without having to – without looking at other people. Go out there, take care of my business, and hopefully that's good enough.”

    This is the fifth time that McIlroy and Woods have been grouped this year. They were alongside one another in the first two rounds of the Genesis Open and the first two rounds of the PGA Championship.

    In the four previous rounds, McIlroy finished better twice, Woods once, and they tied once.

    “It's going to be fun. We haven't done that much of late, because I've not been there,” Woods said of going head-to-head with McIlroy for a title. “He has been there, and he's won a bunch of tournaments. So it's nice for us to go back out and play against one another, be in the mix.”

    We know Woods will be wearing his traditional red in the final round. As for McIlroy?

    "I think I'll wear red," McIlroy joked. "No, geez, I've regretted wearing black out here today. It was hot."

    They go out at 2:05 p.m. ET.

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    Stricker, Jobe share lead in Sioux Falls

    By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 11:57 pm

    SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Steve Stricker and Brandt Jobe topped the Sanford International leaderboard again Saturday after another cool and breezy day in the inaugural PGA Tour Champions event.

    After matching Jerry Smith and David McKenzie with first-round 7-under 63s, Striker and Jobe each shot 67 to get to 10-under 130 at Minnehaha Country Club.

    ''It was a challenge out there today,'' Stricker said. ''It was gusty, the wind came out of the south, where we played yesterday it was out of the north, so it was a totally different golf course.''

    Jobe made an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th, and Stricker missed a 6-footer to leave them tied.


    Full-field scores from the Sanford International


    ''It's pretty straightforward off the tee and the greens are what make it difficult at times and you've just got to be in the right spot to have good birdie putts at it,'' Stricker said. ''If not, then you've got to play pretty defensive at times. ... It's a simple game plan, but try to stay out of trouble and keep trying to put pressure on everybody.''

    Stricker won in Arizona and Mississippi in consecutive starts in May for his first senior victories. Next week in France, he will be one of U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk's assistants.

    Jobe birdied four of the last five holes. He won last year in Iowa for his lone senior title

    ''I think we kind of got used to what the wind was,'' Jobe said. ''Of course, there's some scoring holes on the back. The front played very difficult. It was just kind of try not to screw up for a while there.''

    Smith was a stroke back after a 68.

    Scott McCarron also had a 68 to get to 8 under. Woody Austin was 7 under after a 64.

    McKenzie had a 77 to drop into a tie for 43rd at even par.