Barnes leads U.S. Open with 36-hole record

Barnes is the surprise leader of the U.S. Open after posting a 36-hole record score for the tournament.
American Ricky Barnes leads the field after the second round of the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, after carding a five-under-par 65 for a 132 (-8) total — a 36-hole record for the tournament.

The former U.S. amateur champion — who does not have a PGA tournament win to his name since turning professional in 2003 — is one stroke clear of compatriot Lucas Glover, and two ahead of 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir of Canada. “Obviously at the beginning of the week I didn’t think that score was out there,” Barnes told the official tournament Web site. “Some tees have moved up and the soft greens have helped out but my ball-striking has probably been the most impressive part of the first 36 holes,” continued the 28-year-old. “I hit 31 of 36 greens with only one bogey. It was solid play and I’m very happy with the position I am in,” he added. Glover carded a best-of-the-day 64 to equal Weir’s tournament-best effort set in the first round, while the Canadian had a 70. All three had seen their second rounds suspended due to darkness on Friday evening along with 75 others in the same half of the draw.

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The other half of the field, including world number one Tiger Woods, endured the worst of the weather on Thursday and then had been idle for most of Friday, when the conditions improved markedly. The leading trio have a three-stroke advantage over the field with Azuma Yano of Japan leading the Asian challenge on 137 after carding a 65. Yano is level with former world number one David Duval (70) and the top European, Peter Hanson of Sweden, who carded a one-over-par round of 71. England’s Ross Fisher carded a two-under-par 68 to take a share of seventh place on two-under, along with American amateur Nick Taylor, who carded a 65, former British Open champion Todd Hamilton and Sean O’Hair. Crowd favorite Phil Mickelson stayed in contention with a level-par round of 70 to leave him on one-under-par for the tournament. The world number two — who has never won the major although he has finished second a record four times — will take a break from golf when the tournament finishes to be with his wife Amy, who is to undergo breast cancer surgery next month.

Although the last 24 hours has seen the weather settle following the torrential downpours on Thursday, the forecast for the remainder of the weekend is gloomy, meaning the tournament could fall further behind schedule with the cut not being possible until Sunday. That would leave them having to play more than 36 holes in one day to finish on time or make just the second 72-hole Monday finish in U.S. Open history a reality.