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Rain delay forces extra day

THE weather-hit US Open is likely to require at least a fifth day's play after heavy overnight rain at an already soaked Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, New York, delayed the scheduled start yesterday.

Organizers said play, which had been due to commence at 7:30am (local time) yesterday, would not be possible until at least noon.

With the third round of the year's second major still far from being completed that will almost certainly mean a Monday finish at the earliest.

It will be the first 72-hole Monday finish at the US Open in 26 years.

More than 125 millimeters of rain has been dumped on Bethpage Black since the start of this month with 18mm saturating the hilly par-70 layout overnight.

Although conditions were dry early yesterday morning, the course was unplayable and further showers are expected for the rest of the day and for all of next week on Long Island.

PGA Tour rookie Ricky Barnes held a one-shot lead heading into yesterday after firing a five-under 65 on Saturday for a record 36-hole total of 132 at the rain-delayed tournament.

Barnes led fellow American Lucas Glover by one stroke and was among 16 golfers yet to tee off for the third round when action was suspended the previous evening due to flooded greens.

Canadian Mike Weir, the 2003 US Masters winner who led after the first round, was on 134 after a 70.

Tied for fourth on 137 were Peter Hanson of Sweden (71), Japan's Azuma Yano (65) and American David Duval (70), the former world No. 1 who has not won in eight years.

Holder Tiger Woods, who won the 2002 US Open at Bethpage, was a distant 11 shots off the pace after carding a second-round 69 and making a par to launch his third round.

Sixty players made the cut at four-over after the 156-man field finally completed the second round on Saturday afternoon due to a backlog caused by storms that washed out Thursday's opening round after just over three hours.

Barnes was leading with a record 36-hole score of eight-under 132.

"Nothing you can do," Barnes said. "It's kind of like being stuck in an airport and they won't refund you."

His 132 total was one lower than the old US Open mark shared by eventual winner Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh at Olympia Fields in 2003.

"It's pretty cool," Barnes, 28, said. "At the beginning of the week you didn't think that score was out there."

But the American's got a lot - a whole lot - of work remaining before this major championship slogs to a finish.

Only 3 hours, 16 minutes of golf was played on Thursday because of rain, and the backlog has been copious since.

Phil Mickelson played 29 holes on Friday, some golfers were at Bethpage for the better part of 11 hours on Saturday, and there's still no end in sight to this championship.


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