Barnes, Glover lead as soggy US Open to resume; Mickelson is 2 back; Tiger Woods trails by 7

Monday, June 22, 2009

Barnes, Glover lead as soggy US Open to resume

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Final-round play at the U.S. Open resumes this morning at Bethpage Black, with Ricky Barnes — who made bogey on six of his final 13 holes — tied with playing partner Lucas Glover for the lead at 7 under, both with 17 holes remaining. They’ve got a sizable cushion over Phil Mickelson, David Duval, Hunter Mahan and Ross Fisher, all of whom sit 2 under early in their rounds.

At one point Sunday afternoon, Tiger Woods was 15 shots off the lead at the U.S. Open, where Ricky Barnes was threatening to turn the tournament into a runaway. By nightfall, Woods was seven back, and a dozen players had the lead in realistic sight.

Mickelson, determined to bring a fairy-tale finish to a U.S. Open career filled with disappointment, made seven birdies in his third round of 69 that left him six shots behind. He has been the runner-up four times in the U.S. Open — three times in New York — and is desperate to bring a silver trophy of cheer home to a wife who is battling breast cancer.

“I’m one good round away,” said Mickelson, who has endured plenty of final-round disappointment at the U.S. Open and came this week desperately wanting to bring the trophy back for his wife Amy, who is battling breast cancer and begins treatment July 1.

Mike Weir was six shots off the pace, and the world’s No. 1 isn’t out of it yet, either: Woods made a putt in the dark for birdie at the 7th hole, getting to even par and still in the hunt for his second straight Open title.

“You have to play a great round of golf and get some help,” Woods said. “Obviously, it’s not totally in my control. Only thing I can control is whether I can play a good one or not.”

It’s an unlikely duo in the final group. Forget leading: Barnes has only been within 10 shots of the lead after the third round of a PGA Tour event three times before in his career, and Glover has exactly one win on tour.

For a while Sunday, they seemed by far the class of the field.

Taking advantage of Bethpage’s soft fairways and greens — and making plenty of great shots along the way — Barnes joined an exclusive group early in his third round, when he made a 25-foot eagle putt on the par-5 4th hole. That sent him to 11 under; in U.S. Open history, only Woods, Jim Furyk and Gil Morgan had ever been double digits below par.

It didn’t last long.

Barnes started to leak shots around the midpoint of the third round, quite possibly feeling the strain that comes with leading a major for the first time.

“I’ve got to get my legs moving with my arms,” Barnes said after the third round. “We all know that those go together.”

He only completed one hole before darkness stopped play of the twice-delayed championship around 8 p.m. Barnes got a ride off the course, but the way things were going, he likely would have walked home if that’s what it took to get away from Bethpage for a while.

He went 33 holes without a bogey before, without warning, making par became a struggle.

“I’ll take a lead in 54 holes after any event, let alone the U.S. Open,” Barnes said.

Glover hasn’t been on this kind of stage either, but seemed anything but tightly wound before the final round.

He cracked jokes about the weather, lamented how he might not have a book to read Sunday night — he’s avid, already having completed four since arriving at Bethpage Black — and even made fun of himself over forgetting to eat on the course.

“It’s going to be pressure-packed tomorrow,” Glover said. “I’ll sleep fine. If not, I guess I’ll be tired.”

Glover proudly pointed out after 54 holes that he and Barnes were “playing better than everybody right now,” but was also quick to add that with the caliber of players lurking, someone was going to close the gap.

“There’s too many great players and the golf course is too good,” Glover said. “You know somebody is going to make a run.”

Duval would love for it to be him.

He hasn’t won since taking the 2001 British Open, but is in position to change that in stunning style. He’s 2 under through two holes of the final round, in a four-way tie for third place and thickly in the hunt.

“I’ve been there before,” Duval said. “It’s not like a distant memory.”

Play will resume at 9 a.m., and if an 18-hole playoff is necessary it would be held in the afternoon, unless the weather intervenes with this championship again.

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