U.S. Open Controlled by Prince Ricky, a Tiger, and a Lefty
The U.S. Open, 2009 rain-soaked version, finally has 36 holes in the books and your leader is Ricky Barnes, an unheralded former U.S. Amateur champion who resembles Prince William, heir to the British throne.
"Prince Ricky" put himself in the golf history books Saturday morning when he wrapped up a fancy 65 that left him eight-under at Bethpage and went on record as the lowest scorer ever for 36-holes at a U.S. Open.
Barnes was followed closely by a Tiger.
No, not "The" Tiger, but a Clemson Tiger named Lucas Glover, who tore it up early Saturday morning, finished with 64 and finds himself only a shot back of Barnes.
The Lefty close behind is not "The" Lefty, Phil Mickelson, but the Canadian lefty, Mike Weir. Weir followed up his opening 64 with a pretty good 70.
Those three men have separated themselves somewhat as they sit in front of three players at three-under. Included in that trio is the ongoing feel-good story of David Duval, ranked 818th in the world. He was joined by the undistinguished pair of Azuma Yano and Peter Hanson.
And where might one find pre-tournament favorite Tiger Woods?
Woods managed a one-under 69 and is 11 shots behind Barnes at three-over 143.
The tournament continued to be a story of two draws.
The Thursday afternoon guys are the ones who have had their way with Bethpage. The Thursday morning guys, well, it is like watching the junior varsity. Not much has happened for them.
Barnes, who joined USGA royalty when he won the 2002 amateur, has labored in the anonymity of the Nationwide Tour. He finished high enough on that tour last year to earn his way onto the PGA Tour. Still, he ranks 517th in the world.
Likewise Glover is a surprise. His Saturday 64 tied Weir for low round of the event.
Weir is the only member of the trio with a major resume. He's proven he can hold up under major pressure and plays well in wet conditions.
Most eyes were on Woods Saturday as he tried to shoot his way back into contention.
"There were scores to be had out there," Woods said after his round.
Only problem is that Woods wasn't one of the players taking advantage of Bethpage's soft, scoring-friendly conditions.
There are so many questions lingering after 36 holes:
Will they finish on Sunday or Monday?
How much more rain will fall?
Can Barnes hold up under the heat of a major?
Can Glover show that he's a contender and not a pretender?
And, can Weir add a second major to his list of victory?
The answers are coming, perhaps Sunday, perhaps Monday, but they're coming.
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