Barnes storms into the lead

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PGA Tour rookie Ricky Barnes took the one-shot halfway lead at Bethpage Black with Lee Westwood climbing into the top ten.

Lee Westwood defied the rain and a bad draw to climb into the top 10 at the US Open on Saturday as PGA Tour rookie Ricky Barnes took the one-shot halfway lead at Bethpage Black and Tiger Woods made the cut.
There was less luck for a sizeable section of the European contingent as Padraig Harrington, Paul Casey and Luke Donald were among those sent packing with the cut line established at four over par.
Westwood, starting the day at two over par, shot a four-under-par 66 for his second round in the worst conditions of the day as rain poured constantly through the afternoon on Long Island.
He joins fellow Englishman Ross Fisher at two under par for the tournament, six shots back on Barnes who earlier in the day carded a five-under-par second-round 65 in the best of the conditions playing back-to-back rounds yesterday and this morning.
“I just went out with the idea of trying to be in front on my side of the draw,” Westwood said.
“I’ve managed to do that so I’m delighted.”
Barnes, the 2002 US Amateur champion who earned his tour card this year after six years as a professional, leads at eight under, his 132 the lowest 36-hole total in US Open history.
It puts him one ahead of Friday leader Lucas Glover, who posted a six-under-par 64, and another shot in front of first-round leader Mike Weir, the 2003 Masters champion from Canada who added a 70 to his opening 64.
Those three were set to get the third round way in a group of three with the lower half of the leaderboard playing from the 10th.
Barnes, 28, had begun the day in second place at five under and carded three more birdies on a course that yielded just one under par total, that of Woods, when the US Open was first staged there in 2002.
“It’s pretty cool,” Barnes said. “At the beginning of the week you didn’t think that score was out there.
“With some tees moved up and the soft greens helped it out. And my ball-striking was the most probably impressive part of the first 36 holes. I just got 31 of 36 greens. Pretty stress-free, I think one bogey.
“But also if you would have told me I would have been eight under and only a one-shot lead, I would have said, ‘You’re kidding me’, but I’ll take it. It was solid play. And I’m happy with in the position I’m at.”
With the halfway cut determined by the low 60 scorers and ties, defending champion Woods found himself on the line at four over par after eight holes of his second round but three birdies and just one bogey over his next six holes gave him the luxury of a bogey at the last to finish at three over.
With the rain reaching Long Island, the leaderboard remained dominated by Barnes’ initially late-starting side of the draw.
In addition to the top three, Japan’s Azuma Yano shot a 65 to get to three under alongside former Open champion David Duval, who added a 70 to his opening 67, and Peter Hanson of Sweden, who finished with a 71.
Fisher shot a two-under 68 to take a share of seventh place at two under with Westwood, American amateur Nick Taylor, following a 65, with former Open champion Todd Hamilton and Sean O’Hair at two under.
World number two Phil Mickelson carded a 70 to get to one under par with fellow Americans Gary Woodland and Steve Stricker, who both shot 66s.
Westwood birdied his first three holes to get to one under before two bogeys saw him stall. A birdie at his 13th hole sent him to level par, where Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell was after 16 holes, one over for the day.
McDowell and US amateur Drew Weaver had led the half of the draw which started the tournament on Thursday with their opening 69s having played in much tougher conditions over the first two days.
Their half of the draw, also including the reigning major champions Woods, Harrington and Angel Cabrera, began their second rounds today expecting a much tougher time of it with heavy rain closing in.
Oliver Wilson recorded his second consecutive round of 70 to reach level par, as did Sergio Garcia, while Adam Scott got there with a 71.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy shot a 70 to get to two over early on but Ian Poulter fell back to four over with a 74 in the rain.
Playing with Woods, Open and US PGA champion Harrington started at six over finished at 12 over after a round of 76 that included two birdies, six bogeys and a closing double bogey.
Donald bogeyed the 16th to send him to five over with a 71 but Players champion Henrik Stenson survived a back-nine 37 for a 70 that got him to three over.
Scotland’s Martin Laird finished at five over after a 71 but Casey had a nightmare day, five bogeys sending him to 10 over after consecutive 75s.
Justin Rose finished at eight over following a 75, with Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland shooting a 76 to fall to 10 over and South Africa’s Ernie Els finishing with a 77 to complete a miserable week at 15 over par.

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