At first glance, not much has changed in the decade since the 2009 U.S. Open. Ten years later, Tiger Woods is still winning major championships, and Bethpage Black is still hosting them. Of course, there’s a lot more to the story. While Woods was the defending U.S. Open champ in 2009, he’ll return to Long Island as the surprising reigning Masters champ having snapped a nearly 11-year drought in golf’s biggest events at Augusta National last month. And this time, the famed public golf course‘s warning sign will greet golfers teeing it up in a PGA Championship.
In any event, golf fans can expect things to play out a lot differently this year. Well, except for the weather. It’s forecast to be brutal. Again. In fact, unfortunately, the rain is what people remember most about 2009. But while Mother Nature played a pivotal role, there were a lot more surprising appearances and occurrences. Here’s a look back at 13 crazy things that happened that week at Bethpage Black.
1. Lucas Glover won
Look at that expression. Even Lucas was shocked he won—which also explains one of the most listless celebratory fist pumps in history. Glover, No. 71 in the Official World Golf Ranking at the time, wasn’t the longest of long shots having finished T-2 at the Quail Hollow Championship the previous month, but he also had to earn his trip to Bethpage Black through sectional qualifying. Glover finished solo fifth at the PGA Championship later that year, but he hasn’t finished better than T-33 at another major since. And his post-victory U.S. Open track record is even worse. Glover finished T-58, T-42 and has missed the cut in his past seven starts in the USGA’s marquee event. His last start from his 10-year exemption for winning will come at Pebble Beach in June.
2. David Duval almost won
The former World No. 1 is certainly a much bigger name than Glover, but by 2009 he was basically a ceremonial golfer. Still, the 882nd-ranked golfer qualified for the U.S. Open that year and nearly shocked the world. Consider that Duval hadn’t had a top-10 in nearly seven years, and in 2005, he made one cut in 20 starts and earned $7,630 for the season. He would add three more top-10s over the next two seasons, before turning most of his attention to broadcasting. At the time, Duval’s surprising performance was a big deal, but it often gets overlooked because of another random close call a month later when a 59-year-old Tom Watson nearly won the Open Championship.
3. David Duval almost won—with a TRIPLE BOGEY in the final round
Making Duval’s overall comeback even crazier was his final-round comeback. His dreams of winning seemed dashed after a triple bogey on the par-3 third that dropped him eight shots behind, yet he bounced back with five birdies, including three straight on holes 14-16 to briefly tie for the lead. But after he nearly holed a chip on par-3 17, his five-foot par putt didn’t drop. “Lipped out twice on that hole today,” he joked after. But seriously, with a roller coaster final-round 71, he was that close to one of the most stunning wins in golf history.
4. Phil Mickelson should have won
OK, so maybe that’s not so crazy considering how many times people have said this about Phil Mickelson at the U.S. Open through the years. But considering the leader board and where he stood late, this was a particularly frustrating missed opportunity. With the New York crowd going crazy for him, Phil eagled the 13th hole on Sunday to tie for the lead. But he missed a short birdie putt on No. 14, three-putted No. 15 and added a final bogey on 17. The disappointing finish earned him a fifth runner-up finish in the event, breaking the record held by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead and Bobby Jones. Four years later at Merion, Mickelson would add a sixth second-place finish to his tally of near misses.
5. Ricky Barnes nearly ran away with the trophy
No one took advantage of the wet conditions better than Barnes, who set the 36-hole scoring record (at the time) with an eight-under-par 132. At one point, the 2002 U.S. Amateur champ opened up a six-shot(!) lead on the field when he eagled the fourth hole during the third round to become just the fourth golfer to ever get to double digits under par in a U.S. Open. And then, well, let’s just say the man wearing a painter’s cap didn’t wind up completing a masterpiece. This was another performance that came out of nowhere. Barnes entered the week with a T-47 being his best finish in 12 previous starts that season. His next eight events? A T-59, a T-66 and six missed cuts. After earning a spot in the following year’s U.S. Open (where he finished T-27) thanks to his runner-up finish at Bethpage, Barnes has never played in the event since.
6. There was a Monday finish
It rained 26 out of 30 days in New York that June, including all five days this event wound up stretching over. During that time, a full four inches of rain soaked an already waterlogged course. It was only the second-wettest month in New York City ever, but there was an unofficial record set for most ruined shoes at a golf tournament.
7. And it could have been worse
For a while, it looked like there could be a Tuesday (or later) finish. It got so bad that NBC brought in Al Roker as part of its weekend coverage. But the USGA caught one break in that the minimum number (60) of players made the cut. With fewer players and mid-June’s late sunsets, players remained wet, but at least they didn’t have to remain in New York past Monday.
8. The USGA found itself embroiled in a controversy
We know, we know, surprise, surprise, but it’s not what you think! Instead of questionable hole locations or burnt-out greens (never an issue that week!), golf’s governing body got criticized for announcing there’d be no refund for Thursday ticket holders who only saw three hours of golf before play was suspended. As you can imagine, this did not go over well with the more than 42,000 people who had paid for tickets. Eventually, the USGA wisely allowed anyone with a Thursday ticket to be admitted for Monday’s conclusion.
9. It was Phil’s first major after his wife’s diagnosis
It wouldn’t be a proper U.S. Open if it didn’t involve a compelling Phil Mickelson subplot. But unlike a pending child birth in 1999 or a middle-school graduation in 2013, this was a sad one with Mickelson’s wife, Amy, having been diagnosed with breast cancer the month prior. “She would like a silver trophy in her hospital room,” Mickelson said at one point during the week. Sadly, it never happened. But on the bright side, Amy made a speedy recovery, and Phil claimed a green jacket with her on hand (Nantz: “That’s a win for the family!”) the following April.
10. The top 10 was … interesting
In addition to Glover, who won his lone major that week, this was the best career major finish for five other players in the final top 10. That includes Barnes (T-2), Ross Fisher (fifth), Soren Hansen (T-6) and Matt Bettencourt (T-10). Again, it’s not hard to see why this tournament is mostly remembered for the rain. Oh, and that photo is of Hansen, by the way. Don’t act like you knew.
11. Tiger Woods’ brutal weather draw
It’s common for half the field to get better playing conditions than the other on Thursday and Friday, but there was a particularly large disparity during this week of nearly two shots. And Woods was on the wrong end. The defending U.S. Open champ started in awful weather Thursday morning and into Friday, posting a four-over-par 74. From there, his scores of 69-68-69 were the best over the final three rounds, but he never got closer than within three shots of the lead during the final round. A bogey on 15, the brutal par 4 that he played in four over par for the week, was the final dagger in a disappointing T-6 for the then World No. 1. Also, is it possible caddie Steve Williams’ clumsy umbrella wielding was the beginning of the end for their partnership? Kidding. I’m guessing Stevie is the GOAT of umbrella wielding on the course.
12. Nick Taylor tied a record
The 21-year-old Canadian’s 65 in the second round tied for the lowest second-round score by an amateur in U.S. Open history. Taylor matched James Simons, James McHale and John Goodman.
No, not that John Goodman. Now that would be really crazy.
13. Lucas Glover hit 6-iron, 9-iron on the 72nd hole
Compared to the rest of this brawny course, Bethpage Black’s 18th hole is a bit underwhelming. In fact, the USGA toyed with combining it with the finishing hole on neighboring Bethpage Red. Instead, Mike Davis and crew toyed with it in a different way during the final round in 2009, moving up the tees and making it play 364 yards. It was an odd choice considering it still wasn’t drivable, and it created an odd finish when Glover, nursing a two-shot lead, hit 6-iron off the tee. Yep, 6-iron. Almost as thrilling as that winning fist pump.