Weir\‘s 64 just one of many \‘shockers\’
By BILL HUFFMAN
Nobody could see this one coming at the U.S. Open, especially Tiger Woods.
A day after rain washed out opening play, Round 1 was completed at Bethpage Black on Friday with the little Canadian, Mike Weir, squeezing out a 6-under-par 64 – one shot off the major championship record for 18 holes. “Weirsy’’ did it despite a double bogey at No. 5 — and despite hitting a hybrid into almost every par 4 – as his surprising start seemed to set the tone for the unbelievable.
Only 13 guys out of 156 managed to finish in red numbers and Sweden’s Peter Hanson was the next-best with a 66. All Hanson did to get into the Open was make a hole-in-one during a playoff for the final spot overseas, so he’s on a roll.
Then along came another shocker as David Duval managed to cling to a share of third place after a 67. Yes, Double D, the guy who once fired a 59 when he was the No. 1 player in the world back in the late ’90s but hasn’t sniffed it lately.
Phil Mickelson played close to form and was at 69, a score that could have been much better had his putter not deserted him coming home. Also at 1 under was Adam Scott, who hasn’t made a cut in his last six tournaments.
Woods? After reeling off three birdies to get back to even par through 14 holes, Tiger fell flat on his face with a 74 that included a double bogey at No. 16. The collapse left Woods perplexed and 10 shots off the lead.
“I hit some good shots. It wasn’t like I was hitting it all over the place,’’ said a defensive defending champ, who was the only player under par (3 under) when he captured the first U.S. Open held at Bethpage Black in 2002.
Unfortunately for Woods and the rest of the first wave, they got the short end of the weather. The difference in the average score from the early wave that got rained on Thursday to the later group that got great weather all day Friday was almost two strokes.
There were others who were shaking their heads, like Ernie Els, who was anything but the Big Easy as he racked up four doubles en route to a 78. Former Arizona State star Paul Casey certainly didn’t look like the No. 3 player in the world, as he coughed up a 75, the same big number as the FedEx Cup leader, Zach Johnson.
After a difficult start, give the U.S. Golf Association a little credit, too. After the USGA was slammed by the New York media for not honoring Thursday tickets on Friday despite the rainout, they huddled and came up with a fair solution: Thursday tickets will be honored on Monday if the tournament goes that long. If not, it will refund 50 percent of the ticket price
More importantly, give the USGA’s “suits’’ a tip of the golf cap for doing as much as humanly possible to get the tournament back on track. Now if Mother Nature doesn’t derail it again, the tournament could end late Sunday afternoon as scheduled, which would be a miracle.