FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — With a record-setting show, Ricky Barnes has clearly regained his USGA championship stroke.
Tiger Woods, meanwhile, remained well off the leaderboard as rain returned to still-soggy Bethpage Black.
Barnes, the 2002 U.S. Amateur champion, set the U.S. Open 36-hole scoring record by finishing two trips around the course in 8-under 132. He completed his second round Saturday morning, making three birdies in nine holes for a 65.
The previous 36-hole record was 133, set by Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh at Olympia Fields in 2003.
“It’s pretty cool,” Barnes said. “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.”
Barnes has hit 31 of 36 greens this week; the rest of the field is only hitting the green in regulation about half the time.
“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. And I’m happy with the position I’m at.”
Woods was not.
The defending champion and world’s No. 1 shot 69 on Saturday, only getting to 3 over for the week and within 11 shots of Barnes’ lead. He missed a 10-footer for par on his closing hole, then swiped his putter in frustration before tapping in to end his four-birdie, three-bogey day.
Barnes led Lucas Glover by one shot; Glover had a chance at matching the U.S. Open and all-time major championship record with a 20-foot birdie putt on his final hole Saturday morning, only to leave it short and settle for a bogey-free 64.
Glover said he was thinking about shooting 63 as he stood over that birdie putt on the last hole, then lamented that he, in his words, “weenied out.”
He didn’t have much else to complain about.
“I’m very pleased,” said Glover, who didn’t even make the cut in any of his three previous U.S. Open appearances. “Probably as good a round of golf as I’ve played. I’m very excited.”
First-round leader Mike Weir, who has finished in the top 20 at the U.S. Open seven of the past nine years, was two shots off Barnes’ lead at 6 under. A threesome of players, including David Duval, were tied for fourth at 3 under through 36 holes.
“I’m just happy I’ve given them a good show so far,” Duval said.
Azuma Yano of Japan shot 65 in his second round, joining Duval and Sweden’s Peter Hanson at 3 under. Steve Stricker made a big move as well, shooting 66 to move into a tie for 11th at 1 under.
Odd as this may seem, there’s apparently some who think Woods is getting too much attention.
A merchandise stand between the 1st and 18th fairways had a cardboard sign attached to its fencing: “No Tiger Watching,” it read, apparently because ticketholders were trying to use the elevated walkway into the store as a good spot to catch a look at the world’s No. 1 player.
Woods’ round began under bright sunshine. It didn’t last.
Rain started falling around midday Saturday, with up to 1 inch possible according to the National Weather Service. Much work has been done at Bethpage to get rid of the water that turned the park into a pool on Thursday, but any significant new rainfall would likely make the Black unplayable once again.
“It’s been a lot of starting and stopping this week,” Weir said. “It’s just been a test of patience and trying to be in the right state of mind each time you come out not to let things change too much. It’s difficult for everybody.”
The USGA was hoping to get the second round completed Saturday, possibly even start the third round around 5:30 p.m., and then play Sunday to crown a winner and continue the tradition of having the tournament end on Father’s Day.
“Ain’t gonna this year,” Duval said.
Phil Mickelson rode waves of emotional support throughout his 9?-hour, 29-hole marathon Friday from fans who adored him seven years ago at Bethpage and seem even more attracted to him now. It’s been less than a month since Amy Mickelson revealed that she has breast cancer, and she sent her husband to New York with one request: Bring home a trophy.
“I just love playing golf here,” Mickelson said. “I love coming up to this area. I think all sports teams love playing in front of these people here. They are some of the best sports fans in the country.”
Few of them had arrived when play restarted Saturday. Perhaps he needed more out there.
Mickelson took a drop on the way to making bogey at the par-5 13th for the second straight day, and wound up shooting even par 70 to go to 1 under for the tournament.
“I’m only what, six back? We’re only halfway through and we’re all going to be playing under the same conditions now,” said Mickelson, who wound up seven behind Barnes. “I like the position I’m in.”