FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Ricky Barnes had the best day of anyone at Bethpage Black.
He only had to play nine holes. He knocked in a 45-foot birdie putt that put him in the record books with the lowest 36-hole score in U.S. Open history. He had a one-shot lead going into the third round and he still hasn’t hit a shot in the rain.
Right when the water-logged U.S. Open began to gain traction, a burst of showers halted the third round Saturday about a half-hour before Barnes and Lucas Glover, who was one shot behind, were to tee off.
It didn’t take long for the saturated greens to be submerged, and the squeegees were simply no match.
The 60 players who made the cut, including defending champion Tiger Woods a whopping 11 shots off the lead, were to return at 7:30 a.m. today.
The U.S. Open hasn’t dealt with weather like this in 25 years.
Among Canadians battling the elements this weekend is Mike Weir of Bright’s Grove, Ont., who finished rain-delayed action Saturday in third at six under.
Also, amateur Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., a University of Washington player, is a solid two under and in a five-way tie for seventh on the leaderboard.
Stephen Ames of Calgary was even par.
Unusual were the red numbers under par — not to mention the names next to them on the leaderboard.
Not many could have imagined the U.S. Open’s 36-hole scoring record being set at Bethpage Black, a beast of a course. Even fewer could have predicted it would belong to Barnes, who took six years to reach the PGA Tour and has yet to crack the Top 40 this year.
He knocked in the long birdie putt on his 17th hole — the par-3 eighth — and shot a 65 in the rain-delayed second round Saturday morning that put him at 8-under 132. That broke the previous mark by one shot.
“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. Woods had to settle for a 69, leaving him 11 shots out of the lead.
The scoring was so easy that Glover had a 20-foot birdie putt on his final hole to match the U.S. Open record of 63. He came up short and had to settle for a share of the course record, set the day before by Mike Weir.
“I’m a little ashamed I did leave it short,” Glover said. “But I played well. Probably as good a round of golf as I’ve played.”
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 Mickelson, desperately trying to catch up, each scrambled for par on opposite sides of the golf course, when the umbrellas came down, the rain grew stronger and play was suspended.
How benign is Bethpage Black?
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 over the last 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.”
Weir followed his 64 with a 70 and was two shots behind. David Duval rallied from a sluggish start for a 70 that put him in the group at 3-under 137.