US Open: Mother Nature Rains on Bethpage Parade, Work Attendance

Kevin PaulSenior Analyst IJune 21, 2009

FARMINGDALE, NY - JUNE 21:  Phil Mickelson hits his tee shot on the first hole during the final round of the 109th U.S. Open on the Black Course at Bethpage State Park on June 21, 2009 in Farmingdale, New York.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

If you’re a golf nut like me, you feast off of the game’s majorswatching shots, seeking drama unfolding, searching for a story to emerge.

At the 2009 U.S. Open, the doorway was open for a number of big time stories to walk right throughfrom Tiger Woods, the favorite, to creep one closer to Jack’s record, to Phil Mickelson buckling down and winning one for his wife and family, who have fallen on tough times.

What did we get?  Mother Nature, rearing her ugly head and laughing hard as the sky cried on every golf fanatic’s fun.

Yes, the 2009 U.S. Open spent the majority of its weekend underwater.  But while the sun failed to shine, the dampening monotony of this weekend would not take away our spirit as fans.

The gallery tossed out visual proof of this spirit, begging for golf balls, showering the audio skies with “you da mans” and “get in the hole” one-liners, as absurd as they have becomethey still showed that every fan would not let Mother Nature win.

That is, until the Bethpage alarm sounded, spearing a painful echo to each golfer’s brain, like that of a daily alarm clock.

Play was suspended.  Until Mondaywhen most of us, including yours truly, are stuck at a desk jobtoiling with Lumberg-like folk as opposed to watching a potential historic finish to one of golf’s biggest dances.

Quick, lick the bottom of the fridge and get a sickness. Or don’t be that drastic, just do your best impression of the fake hacking and dreary voice that tells your boss that a sick day is on the horizon.

Why? Ask Shooter McGavinbecause “This is golf, people!”

Because Monday morning, the Bethpage Black bonanza resumesand it’s just gettin’ good.

Only seven players remain in red figures, and one shouldn’t be swayed by Lucas Glover and Ricky Barnes sitting on top of the leaderboard, five shots ahead of the rest of the group.  Each of the two, while talented, have never been on a stage like this, and the pressure is likely to mount with each shot. 

There was living proof of that as the final round began, as Barnes’ tee shot on two was not his norm, but more something out of the Charles Barkley book of golf. 

Phil Mickelson (-2, five back) was solid on his first two holes, presenting himself with two great birdie chances, both of which he missed.  Still, there was a look of determination in Lefty’s eye, and one could sense that he won’t go quietly in the night.

Heck, even David Duval is back for a little fun, sitting at -2, tied with three others, including Mickelson.  Duval can come into this dance with less pressure than in the past, when the media was desperate to place him in golf’s center ring with Tiger.

Then there’s Woods himself, lurking at even-par, after staying out in the darkness and draining a birdie on the seventh.  Woods, having a few un-Tiger-like-breaks in the early going, has momentum leading into the a.m., plus five additional holes inked on his card over the leaders.

And look at it how you want, but on the final day of a major, it’s often the fact that a player has escaped unscathed, while the leaders come back to the pack.  It would come as no surprise to see Woods or Mickelson (or both of them) to post a -4 or -5 number, leaving Barnes (who has a shot in the deep stuff waiting for him in the morning) and Glover to scramble to survive the lengthy Long Island course.

Aside of the dewy rain and moldy-damp scents of the State Park’s Black course, this tournament certainly has the smell of another one of those trademark major championship endingsonly on a Monday: a work day.

Damn, I think I’m coming down with something.