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Tiger Woods finishes first round at four-over-par 74

U.S. OPEN GOLF

He bogeys his last four holes in the completion of Round 1. Course is playable today, but more rain is forecast.

June 20, 2009|Teddy Greenstein

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — The secret to a successful golf swing, Ben Hogan believed, is in the dirt.

The secret to success in the first round of the U.S. Open this year? Avoiding the dirt. Or, more accurately, the mud.

"Look," Mike Weir said, "I'm wearing white shoes. They're hardly dirty at all."

It helped that Weir spent the round walking on clouds, firing a six-under-par 64.

Also key was that Weir teed off Friday in the afternoon wave. By then, Mother Nature (finally) had taken mercy on Bethpage Black after soaking her so thoroughly, Boo Weekley joked that the frogs sought shelter.

The unexpectedly sunny skies over Long Island allowed the first round to be completed at 5:22 p.m. By then, many in the 156-man field had begun their second round.

Darkness finally halted play at 8:24 p.m., though players had the option of finishing their hole.

Ricky Barnes struck the final shot, a par-saving putt on No. 18 (he started the second round on No. 10) that left him at five under, one off the lead held by Lucas Glover.

The onset of dusk made it hard to make out the leaderboard, but the Glover camp did not need a flashlight. The 29-year-old pro from South Carolina, who missed the cut in his three previous Open tries, birdied five of the 13 holes he played in the second round.

Weir dropped two shots over his final nine holes to slip to a tie for third at four under. Fan favorite Phil Mickelson, after an opening 69, offset a second-round double bogey with three birdies to stand one under through 11 holes.

USGA officials remain hopeful the tournament can be completed Sunday.

"We have a lot of golf still to play," USGA Executive Director David Fay said.

Weir made eight birdies in the first round to compensate for a double bogey on the par-four sixth. Had he made a bogey instead, he would have shot 63 to tie the Open record shared by Johnny Miller (Oakmont, 1973), Jack Nicklaus (Baltusrol, 1980), Tom Weiskopf (Baltusrol, 1980) and Vijay Singh (Olympia Fields, 2003).

"It was one of those days where I was so focused on what I was doing, I didn't give much thought to the score," Weir said. "I was in a good place."

Tiger Woods, meanwhile, was trapped in a dungeon. His day, which began at 7:26 a.m. on the seventh green, was marked by soggy greens. He hasn't even begun his second round, but his four-over 74 leaves him fighting history. He never has won a major with a round of four over -- or even three over.

He did shoot a two-over 73 in the final round at Torrey Pines last year and held off Rocco Mediate in a Monday playoff to win the Open.

The crux of Woods' troubles came when he three-putted the 15th green for double bogey. He marked the occasion with a choice four-letter word.

A different word of that length helped to summarize the leaderboard: luck.

Those who thrived were the ones who started late.

"Our side [of the draw] definitely had a big advantage," Weir said. "To be able to play in nice conditions was huge."

Barnes, the 2002 U.S. Amateur champion, witnessed the Thursday downpour and figured he would encounter mudslides at Bethpage Black.

"With the downslopes off a lot of the tees, I thought we would be slipping and holding on to each other," he said.

That didn't happen, thanks largely to a 180-man grounds crew that appeared to perform miracles.

"They did an incredible job," Barnes said.

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tgreenstein@tribune.com

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