- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 21, 2009

— Another day at the U.S. Open ended with a familiar drill.

Players dodged puddles in the parking lot as they headed to their cars, a round left incomplete for the third straight day. The maintenance crew grabbed squeegees and pumps as they headed out to Bethpage Black to wage a losing battle against the rain.

Not so familiar were some of the numbers on the leader board - and the names next to them.

Ricky Barnes, who took six years to reach the big leagues, is now in the record book with the lowest 36-hole score in the 109 years of the U.S. Open. He knocked in a 45-foot birdie putt on his 17th hole Saturday, completed a bogey-free 65 in his second round and reached the tournament’s halfway point at 8-under 132.

He is among eight players yet to hit a single shot in the rain.

One shot behind was Lucas Glover, whose lone PGA Tour victory came at Disney four years ago. He faced a 20-foot birdie putt for a chance to shoot 63, the lowest round ever in a major, but settled for a 64.

At least he tied the course record, set one day earlier by Mike Weir.

And this scoring assault is likely to continue.

Right when this water-logged U.S. Open began to gain traction, a burst of showers halted the third round Saturday, submerging the already-saturated greens. The 60 players who made the cut, including defending champion Tiger Woods a whopping 11 shots out of the lead, were to return at 7:30 a.m. Sunday.

Sixteen players have not teed off, and could face 36 holes Sunday - weather permitting, of course.

The U.S. Open hasn’t dealt with weather like this in 25 years.

Woods was the only player to finish under par when the U.S. Open was held at Bethpage Black in 2002. Not many could have imagined the U.S. Open’s 36-hole scoring record being set on this beast of a course.

“Obviously, at the beginning of the week, you didn’t think that score was out there,” Barnes said.

It sure wasn’t for Woods, whose bid to get back into contention was stalled by too many bogeys. He had to settle for a 69, and now must match the largest 36-hole comeback in U.S. Open history if he wants a record-tying fourth title.

The previous 36-hole record was set by Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh in 2003 at Olympia Fields, another course soaked by rain.

With no chance the course can get firm and fast, no record is safe.

Birdies were dropping from all corners of the course - first in the morning by players completing their second rounds, and even some in the afternoon when the players on the wrong end of the draw tried hopelessly to catch up.

About the only thing not falling was the heavy rain predicted for early afternoon - but not for long.

Woods and Phil Mickelson, who was seven shots behind, each scrambled for par on opposite sides of the golf course. One hole into their rounds, the umbrellas came out, the rain grew strong and play was suspended.

There already have been 45 scores in the 60s, compared with 26 scores for the week in the 2002 U.S. Open on the same course. Most of them came from the side of the draw that played 36 holes in the past two days without a drop of rain and mostly sunshine in the sky.

Barnes was on the good side.

“If you would have told me I would have been 8 under and only a one-shot lead, I would have said, ‘You’re kidding me,’ ” Barnes said. “But I’ll take it. It was solid play.”

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