Live Blog: Friday at the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black

Friday June 19th, 2009

Alan Bastable, senior editor for GOLF Magazine, blogged the morning action at the U.S. Open starting at 7:30 a.m. EST. Read Michael Walker Jr.'s live blog of the afternoon action

Leaderboard | Photos | Join SI GOLFNation1:02 p.m.  That's it for me. Thanks for all your comments and insights — and for keeping me honest. I leave you in the talented hands of Michael Walker Jr., who's been tracking the ticket story like a bloodhound. Enjoy the afternoon. I can hear the birdies chirpin'.12:58 p.m.  Make room for, Rocco! The Italian Stallion just drained another bird at 6 to join the leaders at 2-under. If Mediate wins the Bethpage Open, he could give Bloomberg a run.   12:54 p.m.  Lefty
missed the fairway at 16. I've been remiss in not mentioning David
Duval, who has stirred up some excitement with birdies at 14 and 17.
He's even through eight holes, but don't get excited. Duval's had
plenty of promising starts in the last couple of years only to fizzle
after the cut. If he can hang around, I'd be shocked. Shocked! 
12:46 p.m.  Mickelson missed his sliding birdie putt from 10 feet at the 15th. Can't wait for him to play the raucous par-3 17th. I get the feeling he'll fade one in tight there.  12:34 p.m.  David Toms — remember him? — has joined the leaders at 2-under. He's through seven holes.12:32 p.m.  Rain is tough on the players, but it might be even tougher on their caddies. In today’s New York Times, Bill Pennington revealed the elaborate routine between player and caddie when rain and umbrellas interrupt play. A pat on the back to Pennington for what has to be the single most original and entertaining piece of reporting to come out of yesterday’s deluge.12:40 p.m.  Bizarre sweat pattern for Rocco. Looks like he's wearing a camo shirt. He's playing well, though, at 1-under through 5 holes. Roc would love nothing more than to prove that last year's was no fluke. Lefty hit a beauty at 15, curling in his approach from left to right.12:29 p.m.  Anthony Kim birdied the merciless 15th to grab a share of the lead at 2-under. That's three straight birds for Kim, who might just be the player who throws up a 65 or 66 today. Back at the par-3 14th, Mickelson left his 12-foot birdie try just high of the hole to stay at even-par.12:23 p.m.  Sean O'Hair—now at 2-under thru 4—is a tough guy to figure out. Sometimes (see Quail Hollow, 2009) he looks ready to bag a major. Other times (see Bay Hill, 2009) he looks more mentally fragile than the Housewives of New Jersey. Love to see him in the mix late in this tournament. I think he's ready.12:19 p.m.  Here's an update on afternoon tee times from our Press Tent blog:

One of the quirks of the rain-delayed schedule: Tiger Woods played only 12 holes today, but he's done until 1:36 p.m. tomorrow. Phil Mickelson will play all day today and, if he doesn't get in 36, will be first out tomorrow morning. Like
most tournaments, the U.S. Open alternates tee times. If you're first
out in the first round, you're last out in the second round, and vice
versa. They're sticking with that arrangement. So the players who
finish round 1 this afternoon will be due on the tee shortly thereafter
to start round 2. (They have the "early" round 2 tee times.) Those who
finished round 1 this morning will have to wait until tomorrow
afternoon to start round 2. (They have the "late" round 2 tee times.)
Players who start round 2 this afternoon and do not finish before dark will start early tomorrow, weather permitting.
12:16 p.m.  Good news for Mickelson. He nearly jarred his approach, which should allow him to save bogey. 12:15 p.m.  Bad news for Mickelson. He couldn't find his tee ball at 13 and was forced to play a provisional. He's sitting three in the fairway. 12:13 p.m.  ESPN's Mike Tirico extracted some more from Fay on the ticket situation. Fay says the USGA felt like it provided fair warning to ticket-holders about their rights in a rain-out. "But many people thought [our language] was too rigid, and many people thought it was to vague," Fay said. " Going forward we have to be more concise in our language." I give Fay props for facing the pitch fork-toting mob head-on. 12:06 p.m.  I was expecting Boo Weekley to feed off the boisterous galleries. Not today -- Boo posted a 79.
12:01 p.m.  Ugliness at 13 for Mickelson, who pulled a hybrid off the tee into some serious tree trouble. Rankin said the club is brand-new, has the loft of a 2- or 3-iron and that Mickelson designed it himself. Hmm, maybe Phil needs to go back to the drawing board.
11:57 a.m.  Lefty left his birdie try at 12 just short. He's now a shot behind new-leader Sean O'Hair, who birdied Nos. 1 and 3 and is now playing the fourth hole. Kevin Sutherland posted a 30 -- a 30! -- on the front nine (his second nine), with birds on 1, 3, 5, 8 and 9. The bad news? He carded a 41 on the back. Still, that's solid proof that low numbers -- really low numbers -- are attainable today. 11:50 a.m.  Reader Richard Aldrich, a Ph.D in ticketology, offers this solution: " The policy should be like baseball. Here's how it would
work. Let's say 100 golfers are in the field. You would expect each to
play 18 holes on a normal day, thus a total of 100 times 18, or 1,800
"golfer-holes" would be scheduled. If fewer than 900 were completed, a
rain check / refund should be offered. I would estimate that
approximately 150-200 "golfer-holes" were completed yesterday, far
short of 900. The ability to use Thursday's tickets on Monday is an
equitable offer."
11:46 a.m.  Hansen left his par putt a centimeter short at 12 to drop back to 1-under. Phil Mickelson, ladies and gentlemen, is now a co-leader at the 2009 U.S Open, and he may soon have the lead to himself. He just hit his approach at 12 to about 15 feet. 11:42 a.m.  Woods is done for the day (and said that's fine by him), though some players will begin their second rounds this afternoon. Stay tuned for details.
11:38 a.m.  Apologies for the late Mickelson update. He birdied the par-4 11th to get to 1-under. 11:36 a.m.  Soren Hansen has birdied his first two holes to grab the lead (for the moment). Tiger just spoke to the press. "I hit a lot of good shots," he said. "I just didn't finish off the round." Woods was then asked if he felt it was a disadvantage to be in the first wave of players on the course yesterday. He said he didn't think so because players this afternoon will have to deal with their share of "mudballs." Indeed, with no "lift, clean and place" permitted at the Open, dreaded mudballs could dirty a scorecard or two.  11:30 a.m.  Reader Steve asks if Tiger's listless 74 is his worst round at a major. Not by a long shot. At the 2004 British, he posted an 81 (albeit in foul conditions), and three years ago at the Winged Foot Open -- in the wake of his father's death -- he carded a pair of unsightly 76s to miss the cut. 11:24 a.m.  Regarding Judy Rankin's comments about golfers being the only athletes required to perform when many folks are still in bed, SI's Dick Friedman reminds us that swimmers also fall in that category. "Very apropos this week," he notes. Phil made his par at 10. 11:18 a.m. There's now a 10-way tie for the lead at 1-under. Weaver and McDowell are the only players in the clubhouse. Workingman Rocco Mediate, who came so close to slaying Woods at Torrey last year, is off and running with a solid tee shot at No. 1. He's playing with a couple of other guys who know a thing or two about heartbreak in the majors -- Kenny Perry and Tom Lehman. 11:14 a.m. Lefty is playing with Els and Goosen, both of who also missed the fairway. Mickelson is indeed in the bunker with the ball below his feet. Whacked it out and on the green, but some 40 feet left of the stick. Not the start he wanted, but a two-putt would likely go a long way to settle him down.
11:11 a.m. Mickelson was greeted on the 10th tee with a rousing reception, then promptly pulled his tee shot into the right rough (it may have found a bunker). That's a brutal tee shot to face coming out of the box, even for a big-hitter. The carry has to be 250-plus. 11:08 a.m.  Nice bit of color from on-site reporter David Dusek ...

The practice green was quiet at 10:25, but as Phil Mickelson neared the area, a chorus of “We’re with ya Phil” and “C’mon Phil”
could be heard. Mickelson looked to the crowd, gave them a thumbs up
and smiled. He practiced his putting for about 10 minutes, using three
balls, starting from about 12 feet away. He made some and missed
several, but when he started putting from about 8 feet away, he started
making a lot more than he missed.
Meanwhile, Ernie Els arrived, followed closely by has caddie, Ricci Roberts, puffing away on
a cigarette. No one called out to the Big Easy even through he’s a
two-time winner of the
U.S. Open. Dr. Bob Rotella, a sports psychologist who works with Els, walked over and started a chat as Els putted. Five minutes later, a USGA official called out, “Mr. Els, your chariot to the 10th hole awaits.” Roberts shouldered Els’ bag and Ernie started to slowly walk off the green. “Waiting this long ... You’re making the cart driver a little nervous.”

Cart driver? Imagine how Phil and the Big Easy must be feeling right now.11:04 a.m.  Just got our first look at fan (not so) favorite Sergio Garcia, who knocked his approach to 15 feet at the par-4 first. Curious to see how the galleries greet him today -- with a smile or a middle finger.  11:00 a.m.  PHlL! PHIL! PHIL! T-minus 5 minutes...10:58 a.m.  Back at 18, Cabrera just missed a birdie putt to finish at 74. Harrington drained an 8-footer for birdie and a 76. Woods is staring down a 10-foot right-to-lefter for his par. Ouch ... missed it on the low side. That's a double at 15, a bogey at 16 and another bogey at 18. The result: a 4-over-par 74. That's not fog hovering above the course; it's the steam from Tiger's ears. Stay tuned for his post-round comments. 10:55 a.m.  Jim Herre, the SI Golf Plus czar, thinks the USGA should open the gates on Monday to one and all -- no tickets required. "That," he says, " would be a real People's Open."10:50 a.m.  Yet more on the ticket flap. This from Golf Mag's Mike Walker ... "On Thursday afternoon,
Rand Jerris of the USGA told me in front of a Long Island Channel 12
camera and a handful of reporters that people could throw out their
Thursday tickets.  After he said there would be no refund for Thursday
ticketholders, I asked if Thursday ticketholders would be allowed to
use their tickets for possible play
on Monday.
He said, 'No.' Then I asked, 'So people can just throw out their
Thursday tickets--they'll be no refund?' He said, 'Yes, people can
throw them out.'
"Also, there was no mention of rainout policy on the ticket or in the accompanying spectator guide."
10:45 a.m.  Five players are at 1-under or better: Martin (-2), Weaver (-1), McDowell (-1), Smail (-1), Fernandez-Castan (-1). I'd give you their first names, but, really, would that help? Tiger just pushed his tee shot into the junk at 18. Nuther missed fairway.10:40 a.m.  The 18th fairway is, as predicted, proving to be problematic. Looks like split pea soup.10:36 a.m.  Three solid shots from the Woods group at 17; all are within 30 feet of the hole. The electricity around that group (or lack thereof) is striking. Remember the frenzy that followed the Woods-Mickelson-Adam Scott grouping in the first two rounds at Torrey Pines last year? I don't see much evidence of that in Woods' group this year. This place needs an injection of Phil -- and it'll get in 29 minutes. BTW, Cabrera, Paddy and Tiger all missed their birdie putts at 17.  10:26 a.m.  Woods rolled his pitch some 8 feet past the hole, but has an uphill putt coming back. Nope -- misses it left, dropping him back to 3-over. He's officially off his game.10:23 a.m.  Interesting observation from Mike Davis yesterday: “This course, if you come out here most of the time, plays beautifully firm, because it sits on a kind of sandy loam soil. So it’s very frustrating that we’re not getting to see the true Bethpage, where you're bouncing balls in.” I'm fearful the foul weather may also not let us see and hear the true Bethpage fans. Seems the buzz from '02 has been dampened by the rain. Hope that's not a trend that continues.  10:20 a.m.  Tiger missed the green long and right at 16. He's in the lettuce, but his ball is fully visible. Shouldn't be too difficult an up-and-down. If he can make par here and birdie either 17 or 18, he can't be unhappy. Again, he hasn't been his sharpest today. Not even close.10:17 a.m.  Woods is in the fairway at the par-4 16th. Vijay Singh drained a 15-footer at 17 to get to 1-over. Seems the par-3 17th is giving up birds left and right. That won't likely be the case come Sunday (or Monday, or Tuesday), when the pin in cut on the top tier on the left side of the green.  10:10 a.m.  Classic gaffe from Chris Berman just moments after ESPN's coverage began. During an intro highlight package, Berman called co-leader Ben Martin, "Dan" Martin. Then Berman, in a reference to the no-namers at the top of the leader board, says, "You didn't know the names yesterday!" Or today, I guess. Woods just hit a pitch at the par-4 15th that failed to get to the top tier of the vicious two-tier green. He then watched as the ball came right back to him. Three putts from there, including a missed three-footer, left him with a double-bogey 6. He's back to 2-over. 9:56 a.m.  Hate to keep beating the drum on Ticketgate, but reader Andy H. raises a good point: "I'm glad they're letting them in on Monday. But didn't another USGA representative tell everyone to rip up their tickets?" I don't know if that's true, Andy, but you're right—how will the USGA handle fans who have trashed their tix? Could be a logistical nightmare. 9:50 a.m.  Back on the course, Drew Weaver, a 22-year-old out of Va Tech, has been on a torrid run with birdies at 13, 16 and 17. Weaver, who won the 2007 British Amateur, is now tied for the lead at 1-under with McDowell. 9:45 a.m.  Smart move by the USGA. Fay said that his organization has received an earful from fans (see comments below and here), and he hopes this arrangement will help quell the surge of resentment. Seems equitable to me. 9:40 a.m.  BREAKING NEWS: David Fay, the USGA's executive director, just announced that should play extend to Monday, those fans who who paid for Thursday tickets will be invited back on Monday.      9:37 a.m.  I've taken some hits for suggesting that Craig Thomas, the course-record holder, would have been DQ'ed for signing for a higher score than he actually posted. Reader John Guhl sets me straight: "The NY
Club Pro would not have been disqualified if he signed for a bogey
instead of a par—he would just had to have kept the higher score, and
had a 65. Only DQ'ed if you sign for a lower score than you actually
had."
9:28 a.m. ESPN coverage kicks off in about half an hour, so I'll be able to give you a better sense for what the rest of the field is up to. Woods tapped in for par at 13. Brehaut has finished his round—26-plus hours after he started it. He shot a rock-solid 70. Great playing.9:22 a.m. Ben Martin, a 21-year-old amateur out of Clemson, has made his way to 1-under-par through eight holes, with birdies at 13 and 17. He's in second place alone, one back of McDowell.  9:19 a.m. An on-course report from David Dusek of golf.com ... "For the first time since Wednesday, I saw my shadow at Bethpage,
briefly, as I walked around the practice area this morning. The fog
that shrouded the course early is lifting and everyone is optimistic
that a lot of golf is going to be played today. The ground feels like a
soaked sponge, and the divots are landing with a plop. ... Everyone is really, really pumped up for Mickelson to tee off at 11:06. I expect there is going to be a march starting around 10:15 out to the 10th tee ... about a 45-minute walk. It will be interesting to see how Ernie Els and Retief Goosen will handle all the attention. They’re pros and veterans, but the Bethpage crowd wants to go bananas."
9:14 a.m. Correction: Woods missed the fairway left and had to hack out. McDowell is still leading. He's at 2-under through 14.   9:12 a.m. Tiger missed the fairway right at the par-5 13th. There's no question he's not in Iron Byron mode like he was at Muirfield Village two weeks ago, but he's right where he needs to be, just three off the early lead. Tiger rarely gets off to a blazing start at the majors, just as Nicklaus didn't. Jack always said he liked to start slow and build his game and confidence gradually so that he could hit full stride on the weekend. Same could be said for Woods. 9:04 a.m. Anybody know how the PGA Tour handles refunds/rain checks? I'll see if I can dig that up, but if you've encountered any similar situations at Tour-run events, I'd like to hear about them.  8:57 a.m. Phil Mickelson is set to tee off at 11:06 a.m. Tom asks, “Do you think the potential starting and stopping will negatively impact Phil's chances. Doesn't he really need to play 18 holes each day so he can be focused?” My sense is that Phil has so much on his mind this week that I’m not sure a wacky schedule will have any great additional effect. It might even be a good thing. You could argue that Lefty has a tendency to over-prepare for the majors, and sometimes he just wants it too badly, especially at the U.S. Open (see Torrey Pines in 2008). Distractions at home and a bizarre schedule this week might prevent Phil from over-thinking his swing and help him find a nice little groove. God knows the galleries will be pulling for him. 8:49 a.m. Back to the action. McDowell has taken the lead by himself. He's 1-under through 12, having started yesterday at No. 10. He birdied both par 3s on the back (14 and 17), and made a birdie 3 on the par-4 2nd. You might remember McDowell from the Ryder Cup at Valhalla, where it seemed he didn't miss a shot all week. Kid's got moxie. I don't see him fading any time soon.8:40 a.m. A quick roundup of reader comments re: Ticketgate…Tom Hacker: “The stuffed shirts at USGA HQ can figure it out—refunds/rainchecks have to be made available. It was akin to calling a baseball game in the top of the third. Not even half the field had hit a t-shot? Rip-off and PR embarrassment for the USGA.”AJ: “The USGA is handling the ticket situation horribly. How can you tell someone who purchased a $100 ticket and saw 3 hours of rain soaked golf, or better yet... hadn't gotten there yet, that they are now basically SOL? I hope some kind of lawsuit comes from that. One thing you can't do, especially when you are not a top 3 sport, is disregard your fans.”Tom Williamson: “It's not like they played and it was raining. They stopped play. Definitely not a way to get more people interested in watching and / or coming back to watch or play.”I'm curious—does anyone dare defend the USGA on this one? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? 8:33 a.m.  Rhea, a reader, asks what the low score might be today—she foresees a 66 out there. I agree, Rhea. If the wind stays down and the rain holds off, players will go low on these spongy greens. The course record is 64, shot by New York club pro Craig Thomas a couple years back. He made eight birdies on that day but just one in the final four holes. Amazingly he almost signed for a bogey on 18 instead of the par he made, barely avoiding being DQ'ed.   8:28 a.m.  Tiger has looked a little shaky today—but not at No. 11, where he just threw a dart to three feet. Chalk that birdie up. Paddy knocked it tight, too. The Irishman's at 6-over, but that should soon be 5-over. Disappointing start for a guy who's played so well in tough conditions in the past. Remember Oakland Hills last year? 8:23 a.m.  Tiger made a gritty par at 10, rolling in a 12-footer. He's still at 2-over. Cabrera bogeyed the hole to join Woods at +2, but I still like Angel's chances this week. Hits it a mile, grinds like hell, and he's nicknamed El Pato ("the duck"). If a duck can't win this week... 8:15 a.m.  The silver lining in the storm clouds for the USGA is that the Black Course’s sandy turf drains wonderfully. It's remarkable, really—when I left the course yesterday evening Tim Clark was looking for waders and Boo Weekley was bass fishing on the 18th green. Today, the joint looks eminently playable. The USGA did say it’s concerned about the 18th fairway, which sits in a valley between the tee and green.8:10 a.m. Leonard double-bogeyed 10 to fall back to even. Brehaut and Spears are your leaders at 1-under . Eight players are at even-par, including Ryder Cupper Graeme McDowell, Open stalwart Jim Furyk and Bubba Watson. On this beastly course, you gotta like long-bombing Bubba.8:05 a.m. Nice point by Judy Rankin on ESPN: "I don't know of any other sport who's athletes need to be totally coordinated at 7 a.m."8:02 a.m. Bummer for the 40,000 or so R
ound 1 ticket-holders, many of who were still spilling off train cars when play ceased at 10:16 a.m. USGA policy states that their tickets (which start at $100) will neither be refunded nor honored on a different day. When USGA spokesman Rand Jerris was pressed to further explain the policy yesterday, he was evasive. Fair or foul? Give me your take…
7:59 a.m. Justin Leonard has taken the outright lead. He's at 2-under thanks to birdies at both 8 and 9. He's on No. 10, a hole ahead of the Woods-Cabrera-Harrington group. 7:53 a.m.  Tiger made his par on No. 8. He's at 2-over, now on the par-4 9th hole. 7:48 a.m.  Davis is on the Golf Channel. He said, all things considered, he's "delighted" with the condition of the course. There's some casual water in spots, but the greens are rolling well and the bunkers are in good shape. The other side of the ropes is a different story. He described that area as a "quagmire." Yikes, could get messy for the Bethpage rowdies.   7:40 a.m.  Reader Irv Happel chimes in with the day’s first question: “Shouldn't the few scores recorded Thursday be canceled?” Irv asks. “The few players on the course played under severe conditions which won't be the case Friday. This puts them at a considerable disadvantage compared to those who did not start.” Davis addressed this point yesterday and basically said that the conditions the players faced in the morning—before it got really messy—were not exceedingly difficult or different from what the rest of the field will likely see through the week. When the conditions did reach the breaking point, play was suspended. Several of the early starters acknowledged that they were pulled from the course at the appropriate time. Plus, hey, dealing with the conditions is what golf is all about. Sometimes it’s a bonus to go out early; others times, like yesterday, it's not.7:33 a.m.  First things first: the weather. According to Long Island's Newsday.com, we’re looking at mostly cloudy skies this morning with areas of fog. This afternoon should give way to partly sunny (!) skies with highs in the mid-70s. West winds 5 to 10 mph. Buckets more rain are in the forecast for tomorrow and Sunday (and Monday and Tuesday and …), but the USGA’s tentative plan is to start the second round today at 4 p.m. If Mother Nature throws us a bone, Saturday and Sunday will be chock full o’ golf. “The goal here is to play as much golf as we can on any given day,” Mike Davis, the USGA’s course set-up man, said yesterday evening. "If we need to, we will play slightly more than even 36 holes [in a day] once we make the cut.” The last U.S. Open to have a 36-hole final day came in 1964 at Congressional, when eventual champ Ken Venturi staggered to the finish line suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration. Not much chance of those ailments afflicting this year’s champ. Trench foot is more likely. 7:30 a.m.  Welcome back to the Golf.com U.S. Open Slog—ahem, Blog. Hope you brought your snorkel. When we left you yesterday, Bethpage Black was drowning, the victim of an inch-plus of rain that forced the USGA to blow the horn after just three hours and 16 minutes of play. Half the field—78 players—hit nary a shot. Tiger is at 2-over-par through 7 holes; Mickelson never sniffed the first tee; and your early leaders are at 1-under-par. They include journeyman Jeff Brehaut from Northern California, Johan Edfors of Sweden, Canada’s Andrew “Old Man” Parr, and Ryan Spears, a 23-year-old out of Wichita State. Brehaut played 11 holes; his co-leaders completed no more than four. Play is scheduled to resume on all 18 holes at 7:30 a.m., so it’ll be kind of like a shotgun start minus the cart girls. We’ll be here blogging all day—rain or shine—so please keep your comments, questions and stinging criticisms coming!

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