Further delays at US Open

At 7.09pm play was suspended on day three of the US Open at Bethpage Black with several players yet to even tee off in their third rounds. Play will recommence at 7.30am on Sunday with the hope that all 72 holes will be finished by Sunday evening fading fast.

The weather was kind for most of the day allowing round two to be completed and play to start in round three. When that happened, 2002 US Amateur Champion, Rick Barnes, had taken the lead at 8 under, following up his opening round of 67 with a very impressive 65 to edge one shot ahead of Lucas Glover with round one leader, Mike Weir, one shot further back.

Three shots further back and five shots from Barnes' lead are Swede Peter Hanson, David Duval and Japan's Azuma Yano.

Without doubt there are several surprises amongst those contending at this stage.

After a strong season on the Nationwide Tour in 2008, Barnes has played the PGA Tour this season but has given little indication that a performance of this magnitude was close at hand. In twelve starts he has a best of 47th and six missed cuts but Barnes was not quite so surprised.

"Could I have predicted I would shoot 132?" asked Barnes. "No. Did I know I had it in me? Yeah. I'm starting to play well and working hard on my game on and off the golf course. And I think it's proven that finally earned my PGA TOUR card this year and to be able to settle the nerves once I got kind of up near the lead and kind of improve on it, I think, says a lot about it."

"It's pretty cool. Obviously at the beginning of the week you didn't think that score was out there. Obviously with some tees moved up and the soft greens helped it out. And obviously with my ball-striking was the most probably impressive part of the first 36 holes."

"I just got - 31 of 36 greens. Pretty stress-free. I think one bogey. But also if you would have told me I would have been 8-under and only one shot lead, I would have said, "You're kidding me," but I'll take it. It was solid play. And I'm happy with in the position I'm at."

Barnes has admittedly been assisted by playing on the friendly side of the draw in the opening two rounds but he has taken full advantage.

Glover led overnight after round two had been called to a halt last evening when he had just a few holes to play. He returned on Saturday morning and added another birdie at his 15th hole before completing a round of 64.

Weir bogeyed his last hole of round two but is well placed at six under to regain the lead he enjoyed after his opening round of 64.

The group at 3 under is an interesting mix. Former world number one and 13 time PGA Tour winner, David Duval, Peter Hanson and the three time Japan Golf Tour winner, Azuma Yano, form an eclectic mix of the old and the new. In 13 events on the 2009 PGA Tour season Duval has not finished better than 58th but here he is contending at the US Open.

Yano finished runner up on the Japan Golf Tour money list in 2008 while Hanson has been one of the better performers on the European Tour of late.

"Well, I have a big chance to win," said Yano. "I feel like that. Even though I'm Asian, I can do it. And the feeling is very good. And my luck is coming out. I believe in it. I think I have a big chance to win, be the first Asian winner, and keep on playing with this feeling."

Several players worked their way into contention despite still being some way from the lead. Phil Mickelson kept the potential fairytale alive by adding a second round of 70 and parring his first hole in round three before play was called off.

Lee Westwood and Steve Stricker added second rounds of 66 to be at 2 under and 1 under respectively and certainly not out of it given the amount of golf left to be played.

There are many good players at around even par or 1 over who could well be in the thick of things over the closing stages of the event, those players including the likes of Sergio Garcia, Retief Goosen and Jim Furyk.

Tiger Woods made it onto the course for his third round after his second round of 69 but played only one hole which he parred to be at 3 over and a massive 11 shots from the lead.

The leading Australian at even par is Michael Sim, who in his very first US Open is providing further evidence of just how good he is. His form on the Nationwide Tour this season is well documented but clearly this is a much higher level and he has made the step up in fine style.

Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy both got onto the golf course in their third rounds but might well have wished they had not. They both dropped two shots early in their rounds to be at 2 over.

None of the other Australasians in the field made the cut.


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Bruce Young
About The Author : Bruce Young

A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

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