For Tiger Woods, there are 54 holes left to play at Bethpage Black. That might be enough for him.
Punished by the early-late tee time draw, Woods and the rest of those in the same half of the draw are now clearly behind the eight-ball as Lucas Glover has surged to -6 through 29 holes. Tiger sagged to a 74 (+4) in round one – which ended for him around 11am on Friday – and he won’t start round two until just after 10:00 am on Saturday.
And while it’s a long way from being over, there’s not much room for error now for guys like Tiger, Geoff Ogilvy (+3) and Angel Cabrera (+4).
Mike Weir’s opening round 64 was the talk of the tournament, but he stumbled late in the day on Friday and sits at -4 through 9 holes in round 2. David Duval posted a 67 in round one and gave hope to his fans that he might be “this year’s Rocco”, but the former British Open champ petered out in the early evening and eventually fell to +1 before rallying to finish his portion of round two at -1. Get the theme? It’s tough to produce back-to-back stellar rounds at the U.S. Open, let alone when you have to do the majority of the work in the same day.
A name to watch at this point is Todd Hamilton. He produced a smooth 67 in round one and is moving along nicely in round two with an even-par effort through 10 holes. Hamilton is a U.S. Open winner-waiting to happen. He just sort of hits it and finds it, holes a putt or two, and suddenly, he’s on the leaderboard. His British Open win five years ago is proof positive he can handle the heat.
Lucas Glover is a bomber — and a straight one at that — and if he keeps hitting fairways over the next few days, it won’t be a shock to see him battling for the title over the last 9 holes. Ricky Barnes is a freak. He hits it past Glover and is capable of hanging around merely by playing the two par 5’s well and taking advantage of his length to reach the 500-yard par 4’s in regulation. Barnes won the U.S. Amateur in 2003 but hasn’t done much of anything as a professional. The fact that he made it through sectional qualifying and is now -5 through 27 holes shows he might be ready for prime time…finally.
The prospect of more bad weather looms for Saturday. That could put those on the course in the morning – Glover, Weir, Barnes, Duval, etc. – in the same situation as Woods and the early-late draw had on Thursday…namely, playing in miserable, rainy, damp weather. Today, the guys who played throughout the afternoon and early evening got a major gift from the weather gods. Tomorrow, those same gods might not be so nice.
As I wrote on Thursday when I previewed the event, I predicted the weather might wind up being the story of the tournament. Through a day and a half so far, there’s no doubt the weather IS the story. And it looks like it will continue to be the focus over the weekend.
No matter what, the golf will be exciting and the leaderboard will be jammed with familiar names, a veteran or two looking for their moment in the sun and, I’m sure, one or two names none of us know much about.
It’s always that way at the U.S. Open.