Barnes still in control as Monday finish looms

By Doug FergusonJune 21, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' The U.S. Open moved one round closer to a conclusion Sunday afternoon, even if very little was settled on soggy Bethpage Black and the champion would not be decided for at least one more day.
Ricky Barnes scratched out an even-par 70 and kept his one-shot lead over Lucas Glover.
It was the final hour of the rain-delayed third round that suddenly raised so many intriguing possibilities.
Ricky Barnes
Ricky Barnes became just the fourth player to reach double digits under par in a U.S. Open. (Getty Images)
Not long after Barnes became only the fourth player in U.S. Open history to reach double digits under par, his game became a struggle. He went to the back nine with a six-shot lead, but when his 4-foot par putt on the 18th didnt touch the hole, most of that was gone.
Barnes, who has never held a 54-hole lead anywhere but the minor leagues, was at 8-under 202 and paired in the final group with Glover, who rallied with three birdies on the back nine to shoot 70.
I knew it was going to be wet and tough, and I knew my nerves would be tested, Barnes said. I wouldnt have liked to bogey the last hole and end it that way. But Ive 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.
While it was another four shots to find the next group of challengers, they were optimistic ' particularly Phil Mickelson.
Mickelson, determined to finally bring home a U.S. Open trophy to a wife battling breast cancer, knocked in a 30-foot birdie on the 16th hole and finished with a 35-foot birdie on the final hole to shoot 69, leaving him six shots behind.
He made his share of mistakes, as always. But he also made seven birdies.
Im one good round away, Mickelson said. I feel like if I can get a hot round going, I can make up the difference.
David Duval, winless in eight years and now No. 882 in the world ranking, continued to stay in the picture. Right when he looked to be fading, he carved a shot out of the trampled rough and around the trees to 10 feet for birdie on the 16th, then stuffed a 7-iron into seven feet on the final hole for another birdie and a 70. He was at 3-under 207 with rising star Ross Fisher of England, who had a 69.
The fourth round started at 5:45 p.m., with the leaders likely to get in only a couple of holes before darkness forced them to return for a Monday finish.
Eleven players remained under par, a group that did not include defending champion Tiger Woods.
Woods made only one mistake ' 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, its not totally in my control, said Woods, at 1-over 211. Only thing I can control is whether I can play a good one or not.
Control belongs to Barnes, although not as much as he would have liked.
He set the 36-hole U.S. Open scoring record, then looked as though he might shatter several more when he rolled in a 25-foot eagle putt at No. 4 to reach 11 under. The only other players to be double digits under par at a U.S. Open were Gil Morgan (1992), Tiger Woods (2000) and Jim Furyk (2003). Woods is the only player to finish there.
But with a six-shot lead at the turn, Barnes suddenly looked shaky.
He hit only three fairways on the back nine, and birdie chances were limited. He steadied himself with a good chip to 4 feet for birdie on the par-5 13th, and rolled in a 35-foot birdie from behind the hole at the par-3 17th.
But from the 18th fairway, his approach buried in deep grass and he missed the par save.
Glover closed on him quickly, shooting a 32 on the back nine to get back in the game. He went into the final round feeling as though no one was giving him a chance to win ' not with such an unlikely leader in Barnes, and so many other All-Stars behind him like former Masters champion Mike Weir in the group at 208, two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen at 209, even Woods.
First time I made the cut at an Open. Won one tournament, Glover said, listing a few reasons to have so little hope. But Ricky and I, we are playing better than everybody right now. Again, weve got the fourth round together.
And it will be a fourth round over two days, the first time that has happened since Larry Nelson won at Oakmont in 1983.
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 4 1/2 -hour delay Sunday morning because of nearly an inch of rain overnight.
Mickelson has a tropical vacation planned with wife Amy 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 silver trophy.
Even six shots behind ' the largest final-round U.S. Open comeback is seven shots in 1960 ' Mickelson could practically taste it.
Anything can happen in a U.S. Open, Mickelson said.
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    Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

    By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

    Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

    She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

    Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

    After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

    “The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

    Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

    It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

    “I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

    Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    “The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

    Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

    It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

    “I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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    Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

    CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

    The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

    ''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

    She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

    ''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

    Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

    ''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

    Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

    Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

    Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

    ''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

    She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

    ''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

    Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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    DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

    AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

    Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

    “He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

    The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

    It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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    Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

    BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

    Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

    ''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

    He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

    Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

    ''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

    Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

    ''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

    Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

    ''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

    Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

    Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

    Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.