Weir slugs it out at soggy U.S. Open
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — This was supposed to be a ring for the heavyweights, but welterweight Mike Weir went toe-to-toe and punched above his class yesterday.
The Canadian lefty led for most of a long day at the U.S. Open at soggy Bethpage Black — helped by his best ever round at a major, a 64, in the weather-delayed first round.
He faded with a 2-over-par 37 on the first nine holes of the second round and had to settle for a tie for third at 4-under par before play was called on account of darkness.
Lucas Glover, who opened with a 69, made five birdies in the first 12 holes of his second round to grab top spot. Former U.S. Amateur champ Ricky Barnes is second at 5-under after a 67 and two more birdies through eight holes before play was called.
With play almost wiped out Thursday by heavy rains, players had a long day yesterday as the USGA scrambled to get back on schedule. Play resumes this morning at 7:30 with another threatening forecast.
For a while yesterday, the clouds parted and the sun shone on the Canadians.
When Weir’s star faded with the light, 21-year-old Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., just crowned the No. 1 amateur in the world, took up the charge and rose to a tie for sixth.
The Winnipeg-born Taylor splashed seven 3′s and a deuce across his card to go 5-under through 14 holes of his second round and get to 2-under on the tournament.
Taylor holed out from the bunker on par-3 14th for a birdie before having to pack it in or the night.
“After I was 4-over through seven (in his first round) and going to eight I made about a 12-footer for par, I’d have never guessed I’d make a bunch of birdies,” said Taylor, who had a first-round 73. “I was confident. I was hitting well. I just wasn’t making any putts. The second 18, I started to make some putts.”
Weir’s iron play was spot on in the opening round as he set an Open scoring record on the Black Course, bettering Nick Faldo’s 66 in 2002.
He made eight birdies and the total length of those eight putts was just 58 feet.
Calgary’s Stephen Ames, playing with Weir, bounced back from a 74 with a 31 on the nine holes he played in the afternoon to get to even and a tie for 17th. London’s Andrew Parr, who led overnight after play was suspended Thursday, had a 74 and will hopefully get his second round in today.
Weir’s round was a stroke off the record for the lowest round in any major. Weir took double bogey on the sixth hole (his 15th of the first round) and had makeable putts that didn’t find the hole on 17 and 18.
But, before heading out for the start of his second round, Weir said he was enjoying himself too much to contemplate the possibilities of making history with a 62.
“I didn’t think much about it. It was just one of those days where I was so focused on what I was doing, had a great feel and just wanted to kind of let it ride,” said the 2003 Masters champ. “I had a great feel with my irons and didn’t give much thought to the score at all.”
Loves the parallel
Weir, whose previous low round in a major was a 65 at the 2006 PGA Championship, loves the parallel developing here with what happened when he became the first Canadian to win a major on a rain-soaked Augusta National six years ago.
“We were rained out on Thursday (in 2003) and it played really, really long and everybody talked about the long players are going to have a big advantage.
“But, you know, I think all of us medium-length hitters think we can compete and if we hit some longer irons and rescue clubs into the greens, the greens are going to be soft enough to hold those.”
Tiger Woods, who was in the morning draw, had a 4-over 74 after bogeying his last four holes.
“I wasn’t playing poorly,” he said. “You know, that’s the thing. I was even par with four to go and I was right there where I needed to be and two bad shots and a mud ball later, I’m at 4-over par.”
Phil Mickelson, the crowd favourite, had an opening round 69 and was even through 11 holes of the second round, tied for 12th.
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