Tee times determing the good and bad at Bethpage

By Randall MellJune 19, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' At every turn Friday at Bethpage Black, there was evidence of a cosmic conspiracy.
 
Its as if the golf gods imposed their own handicapping system on the U.S. Open. Or they gave Jack Nicklaus control of the weather.
 
Whatevers going on, it isnt good for Tiger Woods and his bid to win a 15th major championship title.
 
Shortly after Woods putted out Friday morning, the sun broke through to chase away the gray clouds and some miserable weather.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods left Bethpage miserable after an opening 74. (Getty Images)
After Woods posted a 4-over-par 74, the U.S. Open changed its tune.
 
The championships typically punishing test turned into a sweet melody.
 
Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, everything thats wonderful is what I feel . . .
 
You could swear you heard Lucas Glover, Ricky Barnes and Mike Weir humming that old Lesley Gore tune from the 1960s in the afternoon as they scorched the course in birdie blitzes under heavenly blue skies.
 
You know that tune, the one Nike resurrected in a commercial this spring to capture the fun PGA Tour pros were having while Woods was away mending his knee. Well, they were having fun again Friday with Woods unable to do anything about it from wherever hes making his home in New York this week.
 
Glover led the suspended second round at 6 under when play was halted due to darkness. Glover, who opened with a 1-under-par 69, was through 31 holes when the horns sounded to stop play at 8:24 p.m.
 
Barnes was second at 5 under through 27 holes with Weir 4 under through 27 holes and Peter Hanson 4 under through 29 holes.
 
Phil Mickelson also thrived in the sun and in the warmth of all those New Yorkers who adore him. Hes 1 under and tied for 12th through 29 holes.
 
David Duval opened with a 67 and also is at 1 under through 30 holes.
 
With Mickelsons wife, Amy, home after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Mickelson is getting an extra dose of Big Apple love.
 
The people here have treated me and Amy and my family so well, its amazing, Mickelson said. I just love playing golf here.
 
Play will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday.
 
Nobody has yet to complete two rounds. Woods is among 78 players who have yet to start the second round. Hes scheduled to go off at 10:06 a.m. on Saturday, but theres more fuel for cosmic conspiracy theorists. The forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of morning showers and more than a 50 percent chance of afternoon showers followed by possible thunderstorms.
 
When Woods finally starts the second round, he could find himself in miserable weather again.
 
Woods was 10 shots back when the first round was complete. Nobodys ever come back from 10 shots down after the first round to win a U.S. Open.
 
I wasnt playing poorly, thats the thing, Woods said.
 
Woods made two bogeys and a double bogey over the final four holes of the first round to shoot 74 in the morning.
 
It was right there where I needed to be, and two bad shots and a mud ball later, here we go and Im at 4 over, Woods said.
 
Woods played his first six holes Thursday in rain and wind, and then finished up early Friday morning on a muddy, water-logged course.
 
The U.S. Golf Associations history of not playing lift, clean and place frustrates some pros.
 
Its frustrating you can hit a good ball and be lucky to have a good shot, Zach Johnson said after shooting 75 in the first round. You can hit the ball in the middle of the fairway and have a mud ball. I don't understand the premise behind hitting a good shot and luck determines whether you have a shot.
 
Like Woods, Johnson got stuck with the worst of the tee times. He believes the PGA Tour would have started the championship under lift, clean and place rules.
 
They call it lift, clean and cheat but that's not the case if everyone is playing it, Johnson said. I mean, the best Tour in the world is plays it.
 
Mickelson wasnt complaining.
 
I got the good end of the tee times, Mickelson said. We had some great conditions to play golf and make some birdies.
 
In Thursdays miserable weather, when play was suspended with nobody through 12 holes, Mickelson never even teed off. While Woods was slogging it around in the rain, Mickelson was at the movies, watching The Taking of Pelham 123, then off to Borders to buy some books and DVDs.
 
I went and worked out, too, Mickelson said. I dont want to leave that out.
 
It must have driven Woods batty watching how conditions changed after he finished play on Friday.
 
Weir, the 2003 Masters champion, opened with a 64 in the first round, one shot off the U.S. Open record. He was 6 under through his first 14 holes, which had the galleries abuzz over the possibility of seeing the first 62 in major championship history. He double-bogeyed his 15th hole but closed with a pair of birdies.
 
Definitely, our side of the draw really got an advantage, Weir said. Thats the way it works sometimes.
 
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