FARMINGDALE, N.Y. - The luck of the draw in the sports world doesn't apply only to horse racing and the NBA lottery. Just ask the 78 players who were in the second wave of starters yesterday at the U.S. Open, at Bethpage Black.
While the first 78 players to tee off spent their abbreviated day Thursday in wind, heavy rain, and utterly miserable conditions, those who started yesterday played without rain on a course that was in remarkable shape considering the inch-plus of rain that fell the day before.
Sure, the first 78 got to finish their opening rounds in the warm, muggy weather. But the second wave played all 18 holes, then went back for the start of its second round in the late afternoon, while the first group starts at 9 a.m. today in what is forecast to be more rain, maybe as much as one inch.
"Our side of the draw really got the advantage," said Mike Weir, who shot a 6-under-par 64, the lowest score of the opening round. "That's the way it works out sometimes. Our side definitely had a big advantage. For us to be able to play in nice conditions like this is huge."
Lucas Glover, a sixth-year player on the PGA Tour who has one career win, held the lead when play was suspended because of darkness at 8:24 p.m. Glover was at 6 under par - 5 under for his second round - after 13 holes.
Glover felt fortunate to be in the half that hadn't had to play in any rain.
"I've been on the other side, too," he said, adding that the last time the tournament was played at Bethpage Black, in 2002, he had the rain on Friday. "Half the field was good, and half the field wasn't."
Ricky Barnes, the 2002 U.S. Amateur champion, was second at 5 under through nine holes, with Weir and Peter Hanson tied at 4 under after nine and 11 holes, respectively.
West Chester's Sean O'Hair double-bogeyed the 18th hole for a 69 and finished the day 2 under for the tournament through 11 holes.
Phil Mickelson rode the waves of roars from the galleries to a start of 3 under after 13 holes, fell back to 1 over after 20, and finished a 29-hole day at 1 under and tied for 12th place.
"The course played better than we anticipated from the practice rounds," Mickelson said. "The ball was staying in the fairways and holding on the greens. . . . I wanted to play as much golf as I could because the conditions were great. The course couldn't get any better or easier than it was."
However, the other side of the draw, starring Tiger Woods, wasn't so lucky.
Woods actually encountered more problems yesterday without the rain, going 4 over for his last four holes and carding a 74 that left him 10 strokes out of the lead and in danger of missing the cut for only the second time in his 15 U.S. Opens.
Amateur Drew Weaver and Graeme McDowell had the best scores of the Woods group, 1-under 69s.
The second wave had the six best scores of the opening round. After Weir and his 64 came Hanson, who won his U.S. Open berth by making a hole-in-one in a playoff at sectional qualifying in England. Hanson fired a 66.
David Duval, the former world No. 1 who came into the Open with a world ranking of 882, shot a 67 to tie Barnes and 2004 British Open champion Todd Hamilton. Rocco Mediate, who lost a 19-hole playoff to Woods last year at Torrey Pines, came in with a 68.
"Don't look so surprised," Mediate joked to reporters. "I love this type of golf. I've been saying I've been hitting my ball just fine. I haven't made a score at all, and I just hoped I could keep hitting good."
Mediate couldn't keep up the pace in his second round, however, falling to 2 over for the tournament through 10 holes. Duval was at 1 under through 12.
Mickelson was challenging for the lead in the opening round before a pair of three-foot par misses led to bogeys. His 69 had tied him with six others, including O'Hair, who double-bogeyed the 18th hole when his drive wound up unplayable.
"It was pretty frustrating making a double there," O'Hair said. "I didn't want to make a double this week. No doubles. . . . But that's U.S. Open golf, so you're just trying to keep it in play and make pars."
Mickelson started his second round with a double bogey at No. 2, an indication that he might be losing his focus. But he came back with birdies on the fifth, sixth and eighth holes before a bogey at No. 10 dropped him to 1 under.
He looked forward to returning today, when play begins at 7:30 a.m.
"I think the wind will be the biggest factor" today, he said. "If there's no wind, we get a great break. But if we have wind, it will be difficult for us."