After the clouds cleared out and the rain let up, Ricky Barnes decided he wanted to start setting some records. The 2002 U.S. Amateur champion set a new U.S. Open record by finishing two trips around the course in 8-under 132. So far, Barnes has hit 31 of 36 greens, which is astonishing when you consider that the rest of the field has only hit the green half the time. But maybe more surprising is the fact that even after Barnes’ crazy-good play, he still only holds a one-stroke lead over Lucas Glover and a two-stroke lead over Mike Weir.
Image Courtesy of the Baltimore Sun
But of all three, Barnes, Glover and Weir, Weir looks like he has the best chance to sustain his position and come away with the crown. The 2003 Masters champion has been here before and knows what it takes to win in these types of conditions. Glover, on the other hand, has traditionally been horrible when the pressure is on. His final round scoring average ranks 87th, which is not where you want to be when it comes to closing out an opponent. As for Barnes, where the hell did he come from? Nobody thought he would be in this position through two rounds of the U.S. Open, especially on one of the harder courses around. The proof is in the facts, and here are a few on Barnes, courtesy of the PGA Tour:
Barnes is making his fifth start at the U.S. Open. In four previous starts, he has finished T-59 in 2003 and missed the cut in 2000, 2002 and 2007. In six previous major championship starts, Barnes’ only previous sub-70 round before this week was an opening-69 en route to a 21st place effort at the 2003 Masters, his best showing in a major.
Barnes, a 28-year-old native of Stockton, Calif., is making his 37th start on the PGA Tour (30 as a professional). He has made the cut in 13 prior events (10 as a professional), with a T-14 at the 2004 FBR Open his best outing. In 2009, he has made the cut in six of 12 starts and sits No. 197 on the FedEx Cup points list.
Should his lead hold up at the conclusion of the second round, it would mark the first time he has led a PGA Tour event after any round. His previous best standing through 36 holes came at the 2003 Masters (T-3/finished 21st) and the 2004 FBR Open (T-5/finished T-14).
So judging from those notes, it will be amazing if Barnes can hold his own and fend off the rest of the field who are breathing down his neck. The pressure will surely be on and I’m excited to see how he handles it.
And now for the Tiger/Phil update (you know I couldn’t get out of here without doing this. I also want to let everyone know that I usually go with the last names when writing, but it seems like first names are much more appropriate for these two guys). Tiger currently stands at 3-over after two rounds, just making the cut. He hasn’t been shooting well at all and has been visibly frustrated. Fan-favorite Phil is in a much more comfortable and enviable position at 1-under. This is a perfect spot for Phil to be in because chances are that some of the guys at the top are going to slip down a couple strokes to put Phil in striking distance of the lead.
The next two rounds should be interesting, though. If the weather holds up, they want to try and start the next round at 5:30pm today and finish the final round by tomorrow. It’s not likely that will happen, but we’ll see.