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Barnes and Glover threaten a major upset
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By Catherine Wood

A rain-delayed third round of the U.S. Open saw Ricky Barnes in the lead at eight-under par. But in the rain-soaked conditions he bogeyed the first hole of his final round to fall back into a joint lead with Lucas Glover at seven-under.

A soggy Bethpage Black provided an additional challenge to the U.S. Open field on Sunday afternoon in their quest for the U.S. Open championship.

Out of 156 players, only 11 remained under par; a group that does not include last year’s champion, Tiger Woods.

The rain-delayed third round brought with it many interesting possibilities for players.

Ricky Barnes held onto the lead with a score of even-par that included an eagle, three birdies, and five bogeys. "I knew it was going to be wet and tough, and I knew my nerves would be tested," Barnes said. He added that he would like to have finished under par for the round, but was happy and optimistic about his performance.

All the players have now started their final rounds. Barnes bogeyed the first to fall back into a joint lead with Lucas Glover at seven-under. Either player would provide a shock winner – in four past US Opens Barnes' best finish is a 59th place in 2003 at Olympia Fields, while Glover failed to make the cut in all his three previous attempts. With five strokes over the rest of the field, the smart money would say that either Glover or Barnes must be the man to take the title.

But chasing at their heels is a group that includes Retief Goosen, a two-time Open winner, former Open Champion David Duval, former Masters winner Mike Weir; and triple Major-winner Phil Mickelson. Mickelson is looking particularly strong - he knocked in a 30-foot birdie on the 16th hole and finished with a 35-foot birdie on the final hole to shoot 69, leaving him six shots behind.

Mickelson is determined to bring home the U.S. Open trophy to his wife, Amy, who is battling breast cancer. Mickelson said, "I'm one good round away," Mickelson said. "I feel like if I can get a hot round going, I can make up the difference."

Also suddenly looming on the horizon is reigning US Open champion Tiger Woods. Woods was four-over after the first round and well out of contention, but came back with sub-par rounds in the second and third, and is currently lying seven shots off the lead on even-par. With only 11 holes left to play to complete his final round it seems too much of an ask even for the great man, but you can never write Tiger off while he still holds any chance of a victory.

Some say that the 2009 Open has been a bit of a bust. With loads of rain and weather delays, soaking fans have been a bit disappointed, but the players have adjusted to the extra layer of difficulty the rain brings. U.S. Open players regard this tournament as the ultimate test in golf; it forces golfers to evaluate their games and their competitive instincts. Players can make a few mistakes at a U.S. Open and still win, but the margin for error is much narrower than at any other event.

(China.org.cn June 22, 2009)

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