- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 15, 2002

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) Bethpage Black was already the longest U.S. Open course in history at 7,214 yards. The rain that fell all day yesterday made it even longer.

Phil Mickelson found that out when he still had a 3-wood to the green after his tee shot on the par-4 No.7, which plays 489 yards.

A bit earlier, Tiger Woods also had to pull out some long clubs to get to the green.

"The rain was really coming down hardest on 7, and I absolutely killed a drive and just ripped a 3-iron to get there," Woods said. "And I just got it on the green."

Tim Herron said he was guessing most of the day about what to hit, adding, "I had one hole where it was 234 yards to the front edge, and I hit a 3-wood and crushed it and it went 218,"

Harrison Frazar said the rain made the world's best players hit clubs they weren't used to hitting to greens. "The course played about 7,600 yards," Frazar said.

The added length played into Woods' hands, most players agreed.

"If there's ever a course set up for him, he may be the only one who can reach some of these fairways and the only one who can hit the greens with an iron," Scott McCarron said.

Plenty of complaints

As the scores mounted, so did the grumbling about the way the U.S. Golf Association sets up the course for the Open.

Nick Price, who came into the Open with some high hopes, had to birdie his last hole for a 75 that put him at 147 through two rounds.

"Advantage, big hitter. End of story," Price said. "I'd like to get into the USGA's mind and find out what they're thinking. It was really a pitiful effort."

Steve Flesch was a bit happier after a second straight 72 left him at 4over. "I'm having fun. I'm the perfect guy the USGA would pick to go nuts," Flesch said. "They target a guy like me to lose it. That's why I'm thrilled to death."

Shigeki's streak

In a tournament where pars are coveted and birdies rare, Shigeki Maruyama had a three-hole streak no one is likely to match. Maruyama was 1over for the day when he birdied the par-5 13th. He followed that with a hole-in-one on the 161-yard 14th, then added a birdie for good measure on the treacherous par-4 15th.

For the stretch of three holes, Maruyama was 4under, and he finished with a 67, the best round of the day. That still left him at 3over for two rounds, eight behind Woods.

Not fashionable

The fashion police would have had a field day at Bethpage Black. Players employed a variety of clothing and hat combinations as they tried to keep both warm and dry.

Rocco Mediate had a big floppy hat on and sunglasses underneath although the sun never made an appearance. Johnny Miller's son, Andy, wore a baseball cap backward with a bucket hat on top of it.

Woods was more conservative, but he did turn his baseball-style hat backward late in the round because rain was dripping off the bill.

Tom Lehman, meanwhile, wore a rainsuit with a "USA" on the back of it.

Just a kid

Derek Tolan had quite a couple days at the U.S. Open. The 16-year-old barely broke 90 yesterday, but he was still going home a winner. Tolan, from Highlands Ranch, Colo., shot 78-88 as the youngest player in the Open.

"It showed by my play that physically and mentally I am not ready to play at this level," he said. "It's been a great learning experience. Now I have some confidence that I can accomplish a lot."

Tolan's father, John, had promised him a new car if he made it into the Open. The teen said he had better stick to that promise.

"I'll run away if he doesn't," Derek Tolan said, laughing.

John Tolan said he would not renege on his promise.

"You'll see Derek driving a different car," he said.

Tough course

Just how tough was Bethpage Black playing? Here are a few statistics to ponder.

•The average score was 76.7, or nearly 7 over. The par-4 15th played tougher than most par 5s on the PGA Tour, with a stroke average of 4.8.

•For every birdie made, there were five scores of bogey or worse. On the 15th hole, there was only one birdie all day.

•Players made only two eagles, and neither came on a par-5. Maruyama got one with his hole-in-one on 14, and Woody Austin knocked a 9-iron in the hole on the par-4 18th for the other.

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