FARMINGDALE, N.Y. - It has been a U.S. Open that Rod Serling would have appreciated. Good thing he's not in charge, or it might never have ended. At least now the finish line has finally come into view.
Well, maybe. You pretty much know how things are going when Al Roker becomes the most pertinent cog of NBC's coverage team.
The 60 players still here resumed the weather-delayed third round just before noon yesterday. They finished about 5 hours later. Following a short pause, they then went back out and began the final 18 holes. Unless, obviously, there's a playoff, which at this point in the proceedings seems practically mandatory.
For whatever it's worth, the forecast is calling for a 20 to 30 percent chance of rain throughout the night and today. Don't even ask about tomorrow.
After nine holes of the weather-interrupted (a term that has become redundant over the weekend) third round, 2002 U.S. Amateur champion Ricky Barnes, who is ranked 519 in the world, held a six-shot advantage over Lucas Glover. Yeah, that Lucas Glover. By the time they walked off the course, having played just one hole of their final round, they were both 7-under par. Barnes, doing his best Gil Morgan impersonation, played his last 10 holes in 3-over, while Glover, whose lone PGA Tour win came 4 years ago, navigated them in 3-under.
They will come back at 9 this morning. If there's a tie at the end of regulation, they are going to try to do that additional 18-hole thing starting at, the hope, about 2:30.
Barnes set an Open record with his 132 score for the first 36 holes. And he became only the fourth man to get to 10-under in this championship, joining Morgan, Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk. Woods won in 2000, Furyk 3 years later. Morgan, however, finished 77-81 in 1992 at Pebble Beach and settled for a tie for 13th.
It has been known to happen.
"I'm in good position," Barnes said after the third round. "I knew my nerves would be tested. I don't think you come in saying, 'I'm going to win this week.' I wanted to compete this week. You know, I'll take [this], in any event, let alone the U.S. Open.
"I can't complain too much.
"I had a game plan when I came in here. I got some nerves going and stuff like that. But that's golf. I think if you don't have a little bit of nerves when you're in the heat of competition, and especially in the last group, you're not human."
In four previous Opens, his best finish was a tie for 59th 6 years ago, before he turned pro.
He and Glover are five ahead of the four-man posse of Phil Mickelson, David Duval, Ross Fisher and Hunter Mahan, the guy Barnes beat in the 36-hole final match of that '02 Amateur. Mickelson is tied with Sam Snead for most runner-ups in this major, with four. Three of those have come in the New York area in the last 7 years, including here in '02. England's Fisher has won twice on the European Tour since 2007, but missed the cut a year ago in his U.S. Open debut. Duval, the 2001 British Open champ, was once world No. 1. Now he's 882.
"I'm pretty pleased," Glover said. "We don't know what it will be like tomorrow. Just see if I can make a bunch of pars. The golf course is too hard, too many good players. It's tough. Never been here before, so we'll see. You know somebody is going to make a run. Greens are still soft and they're rolling perfect. You have Phil sitting there. You can't think about that."
Mike Weir, the 2003 Masters champ, is 1-under with 15 holes to go. And then there's Tiger Woods, one of five at even. He has played the most holes of any from that group, seven. Finished with a birdie, his second of a round that began with a bogey.
As everyone knows, Woods has never won a major in which he didn't at least have a share of the lead at the end of 54 holes. And nobody has rallied from more than seven back over the closing 18 holes to lift the trophy. That record was set by Arnold Palmer in 1960. Tiger trailed by nine.
But, hey, it has been that kind of tournament. The weather has dominated the headlines. That's about to change. We're pretty sure. *