FROM FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — As they completed one round and part of another Friday at the U.S. Open golf tournament, it became clear that the stars were out of line over Bethpage State Park. Weird was the norm.
A player whose last name started with "W" was the first-round leader, shooting a six-under-par 64 that was one shot shy of tying the best round ever in a major tournament.
"I was in a good place all day," said Mike Weir, the Canadian who won the 2003 Masters.
The more famous "W"?
Tiger Woods shot a four-over 74, completing Friday a round he started a day earlier with six holes in the rain and slop.
At the end, after going four over on his last four holes, he was less than cheery. Asked if he would have liked to go back out Friday, as players on the other side of the draw did after their first 18 holes, Woods was clear that he would have hated that.
"I would be a few clubs lighter," he said, referring to likely throwing and breakage.
David Duval, the No. 1 player in the world 10 years ago but now mostly a memory, had to qualify to make the field yet led Woods after the first round by seven shots.
That seemed to confirm what he has been telling reporters for months: "I'm not that far away."
Peter Hanson of Sweden, not to be confused with Soren Hansen of Denmark, who played in the same group Friday, was two shots back of Weir.
Hanson, like Duval, had to qualify to get in. Hanson, unlike Duval, did so by stepping to the tee on a par-three, second playoff hole with four others still in the running in London, taking out a five-iron, changing his mind to a six-iron, and then bouncing his tee shot into the hole.
"It felt like fate to get here," Hanson said, "and I was just trying to tell myself to get everything out of it."
Phil Mickelson, this week's favored son, adopted by the New York crowd here in '02 when he finished second and rooted for now as he juggles golf with his wife's breast cancer, got to three under at one point but finished at 69. He hit many shots close to the pin, but missed as many short putts.
"The soft conditions are helping me hit fairways and attack the greens," he said.
The conditions also seemed to help last year's runner-up hero at the Torrey Pines U.S. Open -- Rocco Mediate, who was one better than Mickelson at 68 and who, in combination with Mickelson, may have the people at Golfsmith stores getting nervous.
Mediate and Mickelson, each of whom plays with Callaway drivers, have been part of an ad campaign that says if either wins the U.S. Open, recent purchasers of Callaway drivers at Golfsmith will be refunded the cost.
Mediate, still basking in the glow of last year's playoff loss to Woods, isn't talking or acting like a 46-year-old short hitter with little likelihood of maintaining his pace over 72 holes on a monster course.
"I'm old, but I can still get around," he said.
Beloved here almost as much as Mickelson, perhaps because New Yorkers can't resist an underdog named Rocco, Mediate was asked how many times the gallery yelled his name Friday.
"Four million," he said.
Meanwhile, the hunk threesome -- Sergio Garcia of Spain, Camillo Villegas of Colombia and Adam Scott of Australia -- was pushed around the course by frequent squeals and remained in the thick of things. Scott finished the first round one under, Garcia even par and Villegas one over.
It wasn't always this friendly for Garcia. In the 2002 Open here, he was in the habit of standing over the ball, gripping and re-gripping, sometimes as many as 15 times, until one New York fan, typically subtle, started the cure.
"Hit it, you jerk," the fan yelled.
Garcia, who says he loves New York fans, now re-grips maybe three or four times, and hits.
In the end Friday, the best scrambling was done by the U.S. Golf Assn. It took big hits from columnists and talks shows after Thursday's round produced tiny amounts of golf and huge amounts of rain and discomfort, all at a non-refundable cost of $100 or more a ticket.
The USGA, in the face of public anger, did its own re-grip. First, it said that Thursday ticket-holders would be let in for any Monday play, a real possibility with more bad weather expected today. Then, it went a step further by saying that, if there was no Monday play, it would refund 50% of the Thursday ticket prices. That would be at an estimated cost of $2 million.
David Fay, USGA's executive director, joked that his group had simply done what the NFL does every Sunday.
"We looked at it," he said, "and upon further review . . ."
Upon further review, and fitting to this day, Weir's lead was gone as the USGA blew the horn to end the long day at 8:24 p.m.
In first place after 31 holes, at six under, was Lucas Glover, a former Clemson All-American and Presidents Cup team member. Glover played in three previous U.S. Opens and never made the cut.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
Leaders through the partially completed second round at the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black in New York. (Second round is holes completed):
*--* Player 1st 2nd Par Lucas Glover 69 13 -6 Ricky Barnes 67 9 -5 Peter Hanson 66 11 -4 Todd Hamilton 67 10 -4 Mike Weir 64 9 -4 Azuma Yano 72 12 -2 Soren Hansen 70 11 -2 Adam Scott 69 11 -2 Sean O'Hair 69 11 -2 Ross Fisher 70 10 -2 *--*