US Open golf set for a Monday finish after 26 years

By V. Krishnaswamy, IANS
Sunday, June 21, 2009

FARMINGDALE - The 109th US Open golf was now almost certainly heading for its first Monday finish in 26 years with overnight rain and morning overcast sky delaying the start to noon.

Earlier the United States Golf Association (USGA) officials had planned to start play at around 6.30 a.m. and try and get both the third and final rounds played Sunday.

On Saturday, the USGA managed to get the second round complete and also got some of the players to begin their third round. But as many as 16 players were unable to begin their third round Saturday.

The rain began Saturday evening and by the night the course, already battered by the week-long rains on Long Island, had begun showing signs of re-flooding the greens.

That led the officials to suspend play for Saturday with some players in the remaining 60-man field, including leader Ricky Barnes, still to start their third round.

As rains and storms continuing through the night, officials were left with little choice to push back start of play Sunday. Now it is almost certain that regulation play - if played to full 72 holes - will go to Monday.

In the US Open, the play-offs are an extra 18 holes at the end of the regulation four rounds. Last year Tiger Woods beat Rocco Mediate on the 19th, sudden-death hole.

USGA so far has said they will go ahead with 72 holes regardless of how long it took.

Ricky Barnes leads the field by one stroke at eight under par from fellow American Lucas Glover, his 132 from 36 holes. Barnes total, ironically, is a record low 36-hole score in US Open history.

On Saturday, there were still grey skies over Bethpage Black, but play did happen. So much so, not only were 36 holes completed and the cut came at four-over, but also a part of the third round in rather soggy conditions.

One behind Barnes, was Lucas Glover, who finished with a 64 as he added three birdies Saturday morning. Mike Weir, who opened Saturday with a 18-footer for birdie on the 10th hole, finally finished second round with a even par 70 and a total of 134, two strokes off the lead.

The leading players mostly comprised those who began in the second wave of first round. The only exception was Lee Westwood, whose 66 - which could easily have been a 63 but for missed putts - saw him leapfrog to tied seventh at two under par.

While talking about rain, there is also talk of records. While Barnes has the new two-round total record, Woods, who started the second round 10 behind and the third round 11 behind the leader, would need to match the 1975 record Lou Graham, who came back from 11 shot deficit after 36 holes to win at Medinah.

Phil Mickelson at one-under is seven behind the leader, and another much-liked name David Duval, who has not won since his 2001 British Open, is at three-under, five behind the leader.

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