FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Barring any more significant rain, the final round of the U.S. Open will begin at midday Sunday and a champion at the season’s second major could be crowned as early as Monday morning.
About eight-tenths of an inch of rain hit Bethpage Black overnight, sending at least 100 workers onto the course very early Sunday to pump and push the water away. Another period of rain was expected later in the morning, which is why the USGA held off a resumption of third-round play until noon.
It will be the first 72-hole Monday finish at the U.S. Open in 26 years.
“Actually, the forecast for the afternoon is relatively good,” Mike Davis, the USGA’s senior director of rules and competition, said Sunday morning. “We could get some light showers late today, but they’re not thinking thunderstorms and they’re not really thinking anything heavy, either. So if that’s the case, we will play as long as we can.”
The final round was set to begin about 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Players will be sent off both tees in twosomes, but the final group may only get one or two holes of the fourth round in before darkness halts play, which the USGA expects to happen around 8 p.m.
Sixteen of the 60 players who made the cut did not begin the third round Saturday, and no one completed more than six holes before a burst of showers flooded the greens and stopped play around 7 p.m.
Open officials still hoped to finish the final two rounds on Sunday, but it rained throughout the night and into the morning.
Ricky Barnes was leading with a record 36-hole score of 8-under 132.
“Nothing you can do,” Barnes said. “It’s kind of like being stuck in an airport and they won’t refund you.”
He’s got a lot – a whole lot – of work remaining before this major championship slogs to a finish.
Monday’s schedule calls for play to begin somewhere between 7:30 and 9 a.m. If an 18-hole playoff is required, the USGA will hold that on Monday as well, provided it can begin before 4 p.m., Davis said.
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 Saturday, and there’s still no end in sight to this championship.
Mickelson seems particularly anxious for this U.S. Open to finish; with his wife planning to start breast cancer treatment on July 1, the Mickelson clan is planning a special vacation to begin as soon as Lefty leaves Long Island.
“I hope this tournament gets done on time as scheduled, because we have a fun family trip planned that we’ll leave Monday night for,” Mickelson said. “I don’t want to cut that short because it’s really our last family trip for the summer. We had to cancel a bunch of other ones and I just hope that we’re able to make that.”
On the flip side, Barnes might never want this tournament to end.
Barnes, the 2002 U.S. Amateur champion who has never finished better than 14th on the PGA Tour, made a 45-foot birdie putt on the par-3 eighth – his 17th hole of the second round – and followed with a par for a bogey-free 65 under a sunny sky Saturday morning, completing two rounds in 8-under 132.
Not only did it give him a one-shot lead over Glover, it was the best midway score in the 109 years of the U.S. Open.
“Obviously, at the beginning of the week, you didn’t think that score was out there,” Barnes said.
Drew Weaver, one of three amateurs to make the cut, said he was amazed how involved the crowd was Saturday, even after light rain started around noon and basically kept spitting the rest of the day – until the sky really opened.
“It’s tough. It’s a mess and starting and stopping stinks,” said Weaver, a former Virginia Tech player who made a major cut for the first time in three tries. “But it’s fine. I’ve got nowhere else to be. I’m here for the U.S. Open. A volunteer asked me if I’d rather be in Florida. No way – there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than here.”