Saturday, June 20, 2009

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — The sun was shining and the birds were chirping Saturday morning at Bethpage  Black, but it's not going to last. A big green and yellow blob on the weather radar was already moving across northern New Jersey toward Long Island.An afternoon storm delay seems like a given, but it was nice when Phil Mickelson, Lucas Glover, David Duval and the rest of the contenders finally completed their second rounds Saturday morning.Duval had the most interesting morning. He'd struggled to shoot 38 on the front Friday afternoon but rallied with four birdies on the back nine to finish with a 70 and post at 137, 3 under par. Almost ten years ago, he was the No. 1 player in the world, but he had injuries, lost his game and lost his interest. He's been telling observers for months that he's not far from playing well again. This week, he's backing it up. Duval has also mellowed and seems to be enjoying the game more than ever."I've seen the highs, I've seen the lows, there's very little I haven't seen in championship golf," Duval said after his round.Duval was tied for fourth when he finished, five shots behind former U.S. Amateur champion Ricky Barnes, four behind Glover and three behind first-round leader Mike Weir.

Everyone atop the leaderboard was from the Thursday afternoon half of the field, which has gotten a big break on the weather. The morning half, which included Tiger Woods, played in heavy rain and wind on Thursday and finished up in sloppy conditions Friday morning. The Thursday afternoon group finally teed off Friday and enjoyed clearing skies all day and again Saturday morning as they finished up their second round."We got a great end of the draw," Mickelson said.It could translate to a four- or five-shot advantage for the afternoon tee times. The first-round scoring averages showed almost a two-shot difference."If you get it going, playing extra holes helps," said Glover, who shot a 64 with a strong finish on the front nine Saturday. "Luckily, I had some momentum going."Glover actually had a 20-foot birdie putt on the ninth green, his final hole, to shoot 63 and tie for the lowest score ever shot in a U.S. Open — or any other major, for that matter."Yeah, I thought about 63 and then I weenied it and left it short," Glover said, laughing. "I wasn't going to run it by five feet, either."Glover had missed the cut in three previous Opens, including '02 at Bethpage. The course is playing somewhat easier this time, he said, because of the soft greens, but also because of the rough. "It was ankle-high everywhere," Glover said of 2002. "You miss the fairway by a yard, and you were chipping out. Now, with the graduated rough, you have a chance to play to the green. That's probably a four-shot difference right there."Mickelson struggled during his second round and shot 70, leaving him at 139, one under par. "We all left some shots out there," he said.Mickelson bogeyed the par-5 13th hole for the second straight round. This time, he had to take an unplayable lie when his ball buried in the thick rough. He asked for a ruling, thinking his ball might be embedded, but an official said it wasn't and he wasn't entitled to relief. Mickelson picked up a birdie at the par-3 17th for the second straight time to get that stroke back.Barnes shot 32 on his final nine, the front side, to shoot 65 and finish at 132, eight under par. He held the lead as the other half of the field began to tee off in hopes of completing their second rounds before the expected storms hit this afternoon.

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