Live Blog: Round 1 at the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black
Connell Barrett, editor-at-large for GOLF Magazine, blogged Thursday's action and lack thereof at the U.S. Open. Join the conversation below.
Well, ESPN's Chris Berman is starting to sing Bob Dylan tunes, so that's my cue to sign off. Golf.com's live blog will be on its own rain delay until play resumes -- knock on 3-wood -- this afternoon(?). At that point, you'll be in the capable hands of Sports Illustrated's Gary Van Sickle.
I'll be back for final-round blog action which, at this pace, will be right around July 4th weekend.
Thanks for reading and writing. Enjoy the golf!
How do players pass the time during a rain delay? Ian Poulter Twitters.
Curtis Strange on ESPN: "I don't think anyone's gonna play today. I don't need a weatherman. I just look behind me. There's way too much water out there."
As Mike Walker just posted in our Golf.com Press Tent, Thursday tickets will not be honored on Friday. The cheapest U.S. Open ticket? $100.
Like the fans haven't been soaked enough...
The rain continues to pound Bethpage into mudlicious muck. A USGA spokesman just said that they hope the rain will subside at about 1:30pm, "And we're hopeful that we'll get a window of 3 to 5 hours this afternoon to play golf."
I would be shocked if a shot was struck before 4pm, if at all. But, fingers crossed.
From a reader named Sean: "Did I just see the Irish Navy sail across the 18th fairway?"
Captain Feherty is reporting for duty.
Also, Golf Mag's Cameron Morfit was told that today's tickets won't be honored tomorrow. Adds Cameron: "That's a shame. I don't know what people paid for them, but that has to be the biggest waste of money this side of having a star named after you."
In case you're wondering what the deluge means for today's pairings, I'm told that if/when play resumes today, they'll most likely stick to the current order of tee times, getting as many guys out as possible. It's probable that some players won't take a single swing today, assuming play resumes within the 3-5-pm window.
A weather update from Golf Mag's Senior Scribe Cameron Morfit, who just emailed me:
"Jim Hyler of the USGA's championship committee said, 'Tomorrow looks better. It's looking better today than it looked yesterday.' I think Stuart Smalley said that. Or maybe it was Bill Clinton's campaign slogan, not sure which."
Josh C. asks, "I have already stated that Geoff Ogilvy will be winning the U.S. Open this year... What do you think, Connell?"
While Phil tops my wish list, if I had to bet my 201(k) on someone not named Tiger, I'd go with Ogilvy. Not only because he knows how to win a U.S. Open, but he's also steady (hasn't missed a cut in '09), straight, plenty long, and he's won twice this year. There are no weaknesses.
"And they clearly have some Irish people on the grounds crew, pushing water uphill," Feherty adds. "You've got to love them."
Another text from Northern Irishman David Feherty, who does not seem pleased with the decision to halt play: "We'd be sunbathing in this weather where I come from."
Golf Magazine Senior Writer Cameron Morfit has the goods on our (very, very) early leaders. For all our talk about Tiger, Phil, and the rest, some great stories are playing out on the leaderboard.
"Andrew Parr, one of your four U.S. Open co-leaders (he birdied the first hole and is 1-under through three) plays on the Canadian Tour and has his best friend, Kevin Blue, on the bag for him this week. Parr is only 26, but suffered a stroke in October 2007 and was temporarily paralyzed on his right side.
Ryan Spears, another co-leader, has just as short a bio in the Open players guide. He's 23, not related to Britney, only turned pro last year. He's from Del City, Okla., and went to the noted college golf factory Wichita State (not really). His brother, Terrell, is his caddie this week.
The other two leaders are Jeff Brehaut, 1-under through his first 11 holes, and Johan Edfors, 1-under through 4. Brehaut, 46, has not been exempt on the PGA Tour since 2007. He plays on the Nationwide Tour this year, where he's missed the cut in two of his last three starts and his best finish is a T15 at the Athens Regional Classic.
But then your average Joe Bagadonuts sports fan probably knows that."
So sayeth Robert all the way from the Netherlands: "Dry and partly sunny here. Hope the guys keep their feet dry in 'New Amsterdam.' Thanks for the great updates."
Glad you have nice weather, Robert, unlike here. If there's one thing they hate in Amsterdam it's wet grass.
I just got a text from David Feherty, who wants the last word: "Phil winning this week? Maybe the second greatest win ever. No knee and a broken leg still the best."
Feherty has spoken!
I like the point that Josh makes, and then we'll move on: "I understand that, emotionally, it would be a big win for Phil but from a pure golf standpoint, Tiger playing 4 rounds and tying with his last shot and then being sent to a 18-hole playoff. After that, going all the way through the 18 holes and still being tied and then winning it on the 19th hole of the day. That would have been amazing in and of itself but he did it all on one leg. That takes a lot of talent, heart and determination."
You nailed it, Josh. In terms of pure, pulse-pounding drama, I can't see anything topping Tiger at Torrey. However, if -- and it's a Craig Stadler-sized if-- Phil pulls it off this week, it will be the most emotional golf win we could ever see, considering all the interweaving stories. Crenshaw crying at the '95 Masters, Tiger hugging Earl in '97, Davis Love's rainbow connection. Phil winning this year, at this place, would top them all.
James G. comes to my defense (though if he really wanted to help me, he'd loan me a laptop--mine is waterlogged.)
"Everyone knows Golf is a mental game. Overcoming a physical ailment requires muscling through it or making an adjustment... but dealing with mental issues is far, far harder. If you are not thinking about golf, you can't play. If Phil can pull this off, it would be astounding."
Rumor, completely unsubstantiated: Play might not resume until the late afternoon, around 4 or 5pm. Seeking more details...
And here's Robin setting me straight about the oh-please-god-let-it-happen Phil vs. Tiger Bethpage showdown, with Phil winning in a 27-hole playoff (a guy can dream, can't he?):
"Tiger being physically injured beats Phil being emotionally scarred which can play to his advantage. Remember Ben Crenshaw's win the death of Harvey Penick's, his mentor? Players can get into a zone in diffcult times. But it can work either way: disaster or bliss! But you can't overcome physical injury easily. Tiger's win last year is one for the ages. Oh! and it may be that neither of them are at the finish line. There other good players who can rise to the challenge."
From the "Only a True Golf Fan Would Write This" Dept., my new hero Dave chimes in: "It's 8:15 a.m. here in La Quinta, CA. Forecast is for Sunny and 103 and the only place I really want to be is at Bethpage watching in the rain!!!"
Dave, you're everything that's right (if a little wacked) about golf. You're here in spirit!
Speaking of 103, lemme tell you about my last round...
Here's a Twitter from Ian Poulter (seriously, it's really him), who just informed Golf Magazine's Mike Walker: "I can't see us getting back out on the course. Unless they give us a canoe and a paddle."
Herb calls me cuh-razy: "No way this is rated higher than Tiger's win last year. I understand the condition with Amy but quite frankly Tiger winning on one leg far surpasses this. It is not even close (if Phil wins)"
A dispatch from Golf Magazine's Mike "Scoop" Walker, at the course: "Looks like more people coming out than going in now. Instances where it's OK to drink beer before noon: No. 17--Rain delay at US Open. Should be a wild crowd this afternoon."
Chris asks: "Why would Phi's win (if he does which is very unlikely) rank higher than Tiger's win last year. Phil would not be playing if he had the same injuries that Tiger had last year let alone win the tournament."
Chris, you make a great point. Physically, Tiger's feat speaks for itself. Winning on a broken leg? Unfathomable. But the confluence of dramatic threads -- Phil's U.S. Open nightmares, the historic People's Open setting, the emotional anguish he must be dealing with -- would add up to an even more amazing win.
And I don't think a Phil win is that unlikely. (More on that later...But I want to get to some more comments.)
Another blog watcher asks, "Didn't Phil play in terrible weather last year at the PGA? How does this weather compare?"
Ahh, wind and weather. That's a good point. We're looking at four (or five or six) days of British Open-like conditions here at the Black, and Mickelson has exactly one -- one! -- British top 10 in his career. Which would make a win this week even more astounding! (OK, I admit that I'm having a tough time being an impartial journalist on this one...)
Andy H. just made me do a coffee spit-take: "What do Tour players do while waiting for play to continue? Maybe Tiger will hit the gym, that fitness freak!"
Another question: When, oh when, might this tournament end? The forecast calls for rain every dang day through Sunday. Could we have a Monday finish? Tuesday? And how will the USGA handle repairings after the cut, assuming they'll be playing catch-up in the coming days.
And let's not even think about the chances of an 18-hole playoff.
I agree with this comment. To wit:
"Yes I do think that if Phil wins it will be bigger than last year's, if it will be him and Tiger fighting for it to the end."
We're getting ahead of ourselves, but why not let our imaginations wander. If Mickelson finds a way to win this thing, I'd rank it above Tiger at Torrey and Jack at Augusta in '86. Considering all the story lines -- Phil's U.S. Open woes, his love affair with New Yawk fans, Father's Day Sunday, and of course Amy's battle with cancer -- I might not believe it if I saw it. And if he does it against Tiger? Fughettabout it.
A shout-out to Jim, who writes:
"We can relate to Phil and Amy. My wife is so happy to be alive, she started her own charity called Annmarie's Angels to help and thank Siteman Cancer Center in St Louis. Check it out at www.annmariesings.com/angels.html"
Hello, friends. Well, well, well... Just because Tiger Woods won't be working over the next hour or so doesn't mean I'm slacking. (I get paid per post, plus tips.) So, let's keep the conversation going. I'll delve into some of your posts shortly.
Talking Point No. 1: Phil vs. Tiger. If Lefty somehow wins this week -- and I have a hunch he'll be there come Sunday -- would that be an even bigger feat than Tiger at Torrey last year? What do you think?
Water, water everywhere. Despite 90 squeegee guys, several pins are completely under water. Portions of some holes look like swamps, the USGA's Fay added.
Said the USGA's David Fay, on ESPN: "We've reached the breaking point... There's too much water accumulating on the greens, the heavy rain is coming and is likely to be here for about an hour, and we thought it was prudent to suspend play... Mother Nature is a little irritated." Fay added that he hoped the suspension wouldn't last more than an hour or so.
And they've sounded the horn. Play is suspended. Players have the option of finishing their hole or taking shelter in the clubhouse immediately. Tiger, for one, has elected to play his bunker shot on 7. He hit it -- THUMP -- a little bit heavy and has about 6 feet to save his par.
Just got a text from David Feherty: "Today, I like Tiger, Casey, and Britney Spears' fat brother." Pretty sure he means Ryan.
Tiger roped a long iron approach into the front right bunker on the par-4 7th, actually a bit of a break. He'll have a lot of green to work with and won't have to wrestle with the rough.
The USGA brass aren't completely sadistic. The already-infamous 525-yard par-4 7th -- the longest par-4 in major history -- is only playing 489 yards today. Tiger has just hit that fairway.
Tiger bounces back by dropping a 25-foot birdie putt on no. 6, to get back to plus-1. He's 2 shots behind 4 players (including Justin Leonard) leading at 1-under.
Here's how Tiger made Alpo out of the par-4 5th: He blocked his tee shot into the junk, punched out, hit an approach into the left greenside bunker. Bunker shot, plus 2 putts, equals double-bogey.
Danger! Danger! A nasty (well, nastier) weather front is about to hit the Black and could suspend play within the next hour, according to USGA honcho Mike Davis. Or maybe the Doppler radar's merely picking up the dark cloud hovering above Tiger Woods, who just made double bogey.
Tiger just made a double-bogey on the 478-yard par-4 5th, to fall to plus-2. More details to come.
Asks Golf.com's water-logged on-course reporter Dave Dusek, "Is this the U.S. Open or a special aquatic-themed version of the X-Games?"
Blog reader Andy, here in NYC, comments:
"I was at the practice round yesterday and some of the side roads the crowds have to walk through were very wet and muddy -- and it was sunny! I can't imagine what it looks like now, probably a mudslide. Would these rainy conditions normally force a rain-delay/suspension on a non-major event? I'm looking outside my office in manhattan and it is very windy and rainy. To what point do they say, "Ok, this is not playable?"
Again, barring lightning, flooded fairways, or a Kevin Costner sighting, this remake of Water World will go on.
Word has it that play will continue, barring two developments: lightning (none so far), or standing water in the fairway on 18.
Tiger is even through 4. Four straight pars. He's said it many times: "I'm a mudder." (To quote a classic Seinfeldepisode: "His father was a mudder. His motherwas a mudder...")
Back to the action in a minute, but first a report from Golf Magazine's Alan Bastable: "The rain hasn't dampened the fans' zeal. My train from Penn Station was standing-room only, and when we exited at the Farmingdale station at 8:30ish, chants of 'Lets go, Tiger!' already filled the air. No question that these folks have had their fill of coffee. Black, no doubt."
Maybe Phil's off-course concerns will help his golf this week. After all, when you're going through what Phil, Amy and their family are going through, the consequences of swinging a golf club must not seem all that important. That takes the pressure off. Sure enough, Phil said something very intriguing yesterday: "I'm hitting the ball better than I have in a long time, and possibly, better than ever... If I have a good week putting, I expect to be there Sunday afternoon." Hmmmm.
For all the hype surrounding Tiger's every move, for the first time in his pro career, Woods is only the secondbiggest story entering a major. Today (weather permitting), it's all about Phil. Alan Shipnuck nailed it in S.I's U.S. Open preview: "If Phil wins the Open, it would be at the same level as Nicklaus at Augusta in '86 or Tiger in '97."
The Champions (mini) Tour -- the grouping of Woods, Cabrera and Harrington -- all made par on no. 2.
A bit more dirt on Tiger's par on 1, from man-on-the-spot Dave Dusek of Golf.com: "He hacked it out to the fringe in front of the green, chipped and made his par putt. HUGE galleries, despite the rain." Also, the Line of the Day so far goes to a gent with a heavy Long'h Eyelund accent, Dusek reports. After Woods hooked his drive left, the guy yells, "Welcome back to Bethpage Black, Tigger. We been waitin' fer yez!"
I heart New York.
Golf Channel's Jim Gray reports that they're already giving the squeegee treatment to several holes on the back nine, with the water being ankle-deep in some spots. It looks increasingly likely that we'll see play stopped, but ... the golf continues for now.
Are you bumming that you're stuck at your computer, instead of watching the action live on "the Island"? Don't be. They're calling for 20-mph winds today, plenty of rain -- often heavy -- and more of the same throughout the week. I'm reminded of something that the late, great sportswriter Jim Murray said about Pebble, but he could have been talking about the Black: "If the course was a person, he'd have a peg leg, a patch over his eye, and a parrot on his shoulder."
It is nasty out there today.
Oh by the way: Tiger made his par on 1 by getting up and down from a greenside bunker.
Tiger's playing partners Cabrera and Harrington both made bogey on 1, even though it was Woods who drove it into the left rough. I love a quote from Johnny Miller: "At the U.S. Open, pars wear little white hats." Tiger knows this better than anyone.
Tiger found his left-of-Pelosi tee shot, after hitting it beyond the rough on 1. Still, he made par. Even through one hole.
Word has it, Tiger pulled his tee shot about 50 yards left of the first fairway, releasing his hand on the follow-through. He did NOT look happy.
Golf Magazine Senior Editor Alan Bastable is on the Phil Watch this week. "I'll be curious to see how Phil handles his short putts today. I watched him working on his famed Circle of Death putting drill last night, and he looked shaky at best. On two occasions he needed four putts to drain a 3-footer."
Tiger's fairways-hit streak has ended. Teeing off at 8:06 in a driving rain, he missed the first fairway well to the left.
Rain, rain, go away. It's been raining off and on since about 5am. So says Golf.com's David Dusek, on the scene: "The rain is heavy, and it's been coming in waves. A sprinkle here, then a steady downpour for 5 minutes. I can't see them playing Lift, Clean and Place, but if Tiger hits a mudball 30 yards offline, I wonder what the reaction will be."
Hey! Yeah, yooz! Welcome to Golf.com’s live friggin’ U.S. Open Blog, from Noo YAWK. Can’t watch the golf action on the tube? Fuhgeddaboutit! We’re here for every soggy swing at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course, for the 109th U.S. Open.
Questions, questions… Who do ya like? Will Tiger lap the field? Can pheel-good story Phil pull off a miracle and win? Will oh-for-42-in-majors Sergio finally win the Big One, or will he break down in tears and drunk-text his ex, Greg Norman’s daughter? All will be revealed over the next four days. And I can’t wait to watch.