Tiger Woods trails second-round leader Ricky Barnes by 11 at U.S. Open

Saturday, June 20th 2009, 4:14 PM


Tiger Woods reacts after missing a put on the 16th hole at Bethpage.

In 1975,  Lou  Graham charged from 11shots back to win the U.S. Open at stormy Medinah outside Chicago to record the biggest 36-hole comeback in Open history.

Tiger Woods was born that year, six months later. Can it be karma? Woods is going to need all he can get.

The man many thought would defend his championship in a walk is stuck in the Long Island mud. When the second round finally ended Saturday at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, he was perched on the Graham Line, 11 shots behind Ricky Barnes, the leader with a U.S. Open record 36-hole total of 8-under par 132. Woods was at 3-over when they finally called everyone off the course, one parred hole into his third round.

At this point, his half of the anticipated Tiger and Phil Show at this year's Open is in danger of cancellation.

"Well, I'd like to (do it). There's no doubt," Woods said with a sigh when Graham's feat was mentioned. "I'm hitting it well enough. I just need to obviously make a few more putts.

"Unfortunately, my score doesn't reflect how I've been playing. And it is what it is. But you never know. I've got 36 more holes over probably the next three days."

Woods, who made his third bogey on his final hole to shoot 69 for the second round, was joking. It only seems like the longest Open in history. It was a monumental upset that they got in as much golf as they did Saturday, completing the second round and at least starting the third without delay until a final downpour sealed the deal at 6:50 p.m.

Play resumes at 7:30 this morning with a leaderboard that seems there for the taking, if not by Woods, then at least by fan favorite Phil Mickelson, who is seven shots back, and '06 champ Geoff Ogilvy, who trails by eight.

Barnes, who hit 31 of 36 greens, continued to take advantage of his favorable draw by completing his second round with a 65 Saturday morning, one of several low scores that the saturated Black Course yielded. The man he leads by one, Lucas Glover, had a chance to tie the Open scoring record of 63 but said he "weenied out" on his 20-foot birdie putt to do it.

Barnes, the one-time "It" boy, has never lived up to the hype he earned after winning the 2002 U.S. Amateur and being named college player of the year at Arizona. He was the can't-miss kid who's been missing ever since and is admittedly "humbled," by it.

"It's pretty cool," Barnes said of breaking the six-year-old record set by Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh, who were tied at 133 after two rounds at Olympia Fields in suburban Chicago. "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, (that) helped it out. And obviously, my ball-striking was the most probably impressive part of the first 36 holes. Pretty stress-free. But also if you would have told me I would have been 8-under and (with) only a one-shot lead, I would have said, 'You're kidding me.'"

There are three major winners in the top 10, Mike Weir ('03 Masters) two back, David Duval ('01 British Open) five back and Todd Hamilton ('04 British Open) six behind. But none of them has really been on his game, especially Duval and Hamilton. Sean O'Hair, who won at Quail Hollow in Charlotte last month, was in the mix at six back, as was Lee Westwood, who nearly crashed the Woods-Rocco Mediate playoff last year.

If Mickelson's putter had cooperated, he would be right up there as well.

"I think the big thing for me was I struggled with the putter the first round, round and a half," Mickelson said. "And I started to turn it around there in the end and make some and feel good with it," he said. "And I think that if I can get hot with the putter I like my chances in the next two rounds."

Better there than 11 back.



Hank Gola

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