FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) – Halfway through his third round,
Ricky Barnes had a six-shot lead and a smile to match in the U.S. Open. Ten
holes later, with darkness gathering, he couldn’t get off Bethpage Black fast
enough.

The final few hours Sunday changed everything in a start-and-stop
U.S. Open headed for a Monday finish.

Barnes became only the fourth
player to reach double digits under par, but had to settle for an even-par 70
and a one-shot lead over Lucas Glover after the rain-delayed third
round.

In the one hole he completed in the fourth round, Barnes chopped
his way to a bogey and fell into a tie. He followed that by hooking his tee shot
into gnarly clumps of native grass on a hill left of the second fairway, putting
him in more trouble.

When the horn sounded to suspend the final round
because of darkness, he quickly marked his ball and headed for the
clubhouse.

Barnes and Glover were at 7 under par, still five shots clear
of everyone else.

Neither of them has ever faced the pressure that comes
with contending in a major championship – Glover had never even made the cut in
a U.S. Open before – and they still had a long way to go.

“It’s going to
be pressure-packed tomorrow,” Glover said. “I’ll sleep fine. If not, I guess
I’ll be tired.”

Phil Mickelson, determined to bring a fairy-tale finish
to a U.S. Open career filled with disappointment, made seven birdies in his
third round of 69 that left him six shots behind. He has been the runner-up four
times in the U.S. Open – three times in New York – and is desperate to bring a
silver trophy of cheer home to a wife who is battling breast cancer.

“I’m
one good round away,” Mickelson said, excited at the possibilities.

He
played two holes, narrowly missing birdie putts on both, and was five shots
behind at 2 under.

David Duval, another unlikely contender having slipped to
No. 882 in the world ranking, also was in the group at 2 under that included
Hunter Mahan and Ross Fisher of England.

Tiger Woods at least left
Bethpage Black in good spirits.

Having squandered so many birdie chances
over the last two days, Woods made an eight-foot birdie on the 489-yard seventh
hole to get back to even par for the tournament for the first time since his
14th hole in the opening round. Woods was 15 shots behind at one point Saturday,
but he walked off the course seven shots back with 12 holes to play.

“It
was nice to end the day with a birdie on one of the most difficult holes of the
week,” Woods said.

The USGA felt good enough about the forecast Monday to
resume the final round at 9 a.m., leaving enough time for an 18-hole playoff if
it comes to that.

It will be the first time a U.S. Open ended in
regulation on Monday since Larry Nelson won at Oakmont in 1983.

And if
the 21/2 hours of golf played in the final round were any indication, it could
be as much about survival as a big charge. The third round ended with 11 players
under par. When play was suspended, only seven remained.

Barnes looked as
though he might blow this major wide open after rolling in a 25-foot eagle putt
on No. 4 in the third round to reach 11 under, joining Gil Morgan (1992), Woods
(2000) and Jim Furyk (2003) as the only players to reach double digits under par
in a U.S. Open. When he reached the 10th tee, he was six shots clear of
Glover.

What looked like a breeze turned into a struggle,
however.

Barnes hit only three fairways on the back nine, and after
steadying himself with a 35-foot birdie putt on the 17th, he failed to save par
on the 18th by missing a four-foot putt that never touched the hole. He wound up
with a 70 to finish 54 holes at 8-under 202.

Glover rallied behind
flawless golf that included three birdies and a 32 on the back nine and also
shot 70 to stay one behind.

“I knew it was going to be wet and tough, and
I knew my nerves would be tested,” Barnes said. “I wouldn’t have liked to bogey
the last hole and end it that way. But I’ve got to go back, take my shoes off
and think, ‘Hey, I shot even par on Saturday with the lead.’ If I go out and do
the same thing, someone is going to have to really come back low … to catch
me.”

The finish might be as unpredictable as the weather that has
otherwise made a mess of this U.S. Open.

Mickelson could be the one
player to make the misery of slogging through the mud over five days easy to
forget. He already is a crowd favorite in New York, and the affection for him
has become even more tangible since disclosing his wife, Amy, has breast
cancer.

Lefty made his share of mistakes, as always, but he countered
with seven birdies in the third round to give himself a chance. Not even a
six-shot deficit bothered him.

“I feel like if I can get a hot round
going, I can make up the difference,” he said.

For the second straight
round, Duval was on the verge of falling away until he picked himself back up.
Right when he was about to fall back to par, Duval hit a shot out of trampled
rough and around a tree to 10 feet for birdie on the 16th, and he hit a 7-iron
to 7 feet on the final hole for another birdie and a 70.

He again started
sluggishly in the final round, taking bogey from the rough and coming up short
in thick grass at No. 2 when play was stopped. Duval has not won in eight years,
and he has not finished in the top 10 since 2002.

Woods made only one
mistake in the third round – taking two hacks with the wedge to escape knee-high
grass around the 14th green – but more troubling was that he made only three
birdies after giving himself so many chances inside 15 feet. He had to settle
for a 68 and was nine shots behind. He has never won a tournament trailing by
more than eight going into the final round.

“Obviously, it’s not totally
in my control,” Woods said. “Only thing I can control is whether I can play a
good one or not.”

Most players had a hard time remembering what day it
was in this on-again, off-again Open in which no round has been completed on the
day it started. There was another 41/2-hour delay Sunday morning because of
nearly an inch of rain overnight.

Mickelson has a tropical vacation
planned with his wife and their three children before her July 1 surgery for
breast cancer, although he was in no hurry to get home now. He has been
runner-up four times in this major – already tied for the record – and talked
earlier this week about his wife leaving him messages to bring home the
trophy.

The largest final-round U.S. Open comeback is seven shots in
1960. Mickelson was one closer than that, and he could practically taste
it.

“Anything can happen in a U.S. Open,” he said.


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