Friday, June 19, 2009

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- With thunderstorms pounding the Midwest and expected to move over Long Island on Saturday, and Friday looking more and more like it will end up being the nicest day of the week, one truth was dawning over just about everyone at the 109th U.S. Open at Bethpage Black: Thursday's afternoon wave of players got lucky, and are enjoying a big advantage over the morning wave. With the sun drying out the course Friday, the Thursday afternoon wave took advantage of vastly better scoring conditions, and by 2:30 p.m. Friday that second wave made up eight of the top 10 players on the leaderboard. What's more, they would get to begin the second round starting at 4:30 p.m.The first wave? They practiced, or went back to the hotel, or caught a movie. They were done for the day Friday, and wouldn't start round two until 12:30 p.m. Saturday, when it was likely to be raining again."It was really wet this morning," said Casey Wittenberg, one of the first-wave players who got drenched Thursday and came back early Friday to complete the first round. "My first hole, 12, I hit good driver and killed a 3-wood and barely got there."Wittenberg finished with a three-over 73, and was hanging around the practice putting green while the luckier wave made birdies on the Black. The course was, dare we say it, vulnerable, and he and Tiger Woods and the rest of the unlucky Thursday morning gang couldn't go play it."Right now they've got drier conditions to where you can get a little more compression on the ball and it doesn't feel like you're hitting through casual water," Wittenberg said.Only two players broke par from the Thursday morning wave, Graeme McDowell and amateur Drew Weaver, each of whom shot one-under 69. As of 2:45 p.m. Friday, a dozen players from the afternoon wave were under par.Ben Crane, who shot 6-over 76 in the less fortunate morning wave, was unequivocal when a reporter said it seemed like his group was at a disadvantage."It seems like? It's obvious," he said. "Every week there's a good wave and a bad wave. But it was definitely not the weather that shot me a six-over par."

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