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Ricky Barnes on a record pace at U.S. Open

He is eight under after 36 holes, and USGA will try to finish on Sunday.

June 21, 2009|Teddy Greenstein

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — As Mike Weir answered questions under a bright blue sky Saturday morning, a horn sounded in the distance.

It was 10:01 a.m., and already the threat of a monster storm loomed in the distance.

That turned out to be a false alarm. The heaviest showers held off until a few minutes before 7 p.m., when third-round play in the U.S. Open was halted and eventually suspended for the night. It will resume at 7:30 a.m. EDT today.

Mother Nature's sympathy allowed for a most unusual leaderboard, one that can be summarized by this: Who's on first? What's on second?

Ricky Barnes is first at eight under par. Lucas Glover is second at seven under.

Both had to qualify to make the field. Barnes is the 519th-ranked player in the world. Glover had whiffed in three previous tries to make the U.S. Open cut.

And here they are, enjoying double-digit leads over Tiger Woods, who parred his first hole in the third round before seeking shelter from the rain.

Barnes' two-round total of 132 broke the U.S. Open 36-hole record, edging past the 133s of Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh at Olympia Fields in 2003.

"At the beginning of the week," Barnes said, "you didn't think that score was out there."

Barnes, who said he wears a painter's cap to be "different," called his first two rounds "pretty stress-free." Stress-free? At the U.S. Open? What's next, a ban on beer at Wrigley Field?

"You're telling me," Barnes replied.

Yes, it was a strange day, one in which Al Roker seemed to get as much face time on NBC as Johnny Miller.

Woods complained about bumpy greens, but Barnes and Glover combined for 11 birdies in the second round.

Bethpage Black, once described by Woods as "a brute," is playing more like a pussycat. In the 2002 Open, Woods was the only man to play it below par for 72 holes.

Now? With rain slowing the greens and keeping potentially wayward shots on the fairway, 32 players shot 69 or better in the second round.

"You give us a six-iron that's going to stop [on the greens], and most of the time a decent shot is 15 to 20 feet," Glover said. "That's where the lack of defense for the course comes. It's just the conditions."

Phil Mickelson defended the course.

"I wouldn't say it hasn't shown its teeth," he said. "The rough is very difficult, and just a few yards off the fairway, you can lose your ball or have an unplayable lie. . . . It's very difficult. Ernie Els, one of the best players in the game, was 15 over."

OK, but Glover shot 64 in the second round to tie the course record. Weir shot 64 in the opening round.

Barnes, Glover, Weir and Mickelson were part of the second wave, those who benefited by playing their first two rounds in pristine conditions.

Asked if he felt sympathy for the other side of the draw -- Woods & Co. -- Weir smiled.

"We've all been on both ends of the spectrum," he said. "Sympathy? I don't know about that."

Three days into this U.S. Open, substantial mystery remains.

USGA course setup czar Mike Davis said that because only 60 players made the cut, he's hopeful the final round will begin today by 1:30 p.m.

To save time, the USGA might not re-pair the leaders, meaning the winner could finish far ahead of other groups -- or on the ninth green.

"It has been crazy," Barnes said of the circumstances.

And the tournament is barely halfway done.

--

tgreenstein@tribune.com

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