Simon Lewis, Bethpage
YOU know you're in trouble at a golf tournament when the lead analyst in the television booth isn't Johnny Miller or Nick Faldo but a weatherman.
That was the fate met by NBC's Bob Costas, American television's version of Des Lynam and Bill O'Herlihy combined albeit with a considerable extra dollop of journalistic gravitas.
Poor Bob, whether it is an Olympic Stadium, a Super Bowl or a major golf championship, he is accustomed to a sidekick with all the been there, done that kudos of an gold medallist, Lombardi Trophy-winning NFL coach or, well, former US Open champ Miller.
On Saturday at Bethpage Black he got the Today Show celebrity weather guy Al Roker.
Al and Bob pored over the weather charts, tracked cell movements and referred constantly to a “doppler”, whatever that is, when all anybody wanted to hear about and watch and experience after two and a half days of stop-start play was the golf.
Not even Costas can control the weather, though, and as New York's Long Island suffered its worst June weather since meteorological records began, a sizeable portion of the 42,500 paying customers turned to the beer tents for inspiration as the rain continued to bucket down.
As Bethpage Black turned into Bethpage Brown and the fans started losing their shoes in the gloop now lining the fairways, so the volume increased from the galleries as Saturday's play ground on.
And when the second round was eventually completed and an hour's break called for the greenkeepers to work their magic and ready the storm-hit course for a turnaround into round three, the concessions stands once again became the destination of first resort.
On the players' return at the first and 10th tees, they were met with a raucous atmosphere of whoops and hollers and roars. Nor did you need to be Phil Mickelson to receive them.
After the three days these guys had had, the Bethpage crowd was ready to cheer anything and anyone and for no particular reason.
Bogey putt? “Woo!” and, er, “Hoo!”
Azuma Yano? “You da man!”
Some golfers love the vibrancy of such an occasion. They relish it, embrace it and feed off it. Just look at Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines last year and Drew Weaver, the American amateur, this weekend, who turned all Mickelson on us when the crowd got behind him, pumping his fist, high-fiving his caddie and generally running areound like a lunatic.
The atmosphere has certainly impressed young Irishman Rory McIlroy, who played five holes on the back nine Saturday night to get his third round under way.
“It was incredible,” McIlroy said. “It felt like a Ryder Cup out there. The crowd really got behind us, so it was a lot of fun.”
You can, however, also be sure that Colin Montgomerie and Sergio Garcia, both recipients of foul-mouthed brickbats at Bethpage Black in 2002, are not the only ones to find a 'People's Open' just a little too populist.
Padraig Harrington is not one of them by a long stretch but you can only enjoy so much.
He confessed he and his caddy Ronan Flood had had a side bet going on Friday regarding the number of times a New Yorker would say to them how much this weather would make him feel at home.
They gave up on the second fairway of the day, adding to the frustration of an already long week.