Jeev certain to miss cut; Barnes leads, Woods battles

June 20th, 2009 - 11:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Tiger Woods By V. Krishnaswamy
Farmingdale (New York), June 20 (IANS) Indian golfer Jeev Milkha Singh will need more than brilliant play and probably a prayer, too, as he gets off to the second round in search of a berth into the final two rounds of the 109th US Open.

Placed at 11-over after 24 holes, he was certain to miss the cut, but some of the bigger names, including Tiger Woods were also battling to make the cut at the 109th US Open, where the tournament seems to have been divided into two halves - the Lucky and Unlucky ones.

Stuck in a half, that has been labeled as the “Unlucky Half”, Jeev and others, including Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and many others needed not just excellent play but also some great weather to help make progress in the tournament, as the tough Bethpage Black and weather have hit their half of the draw for a double whammy.

Jeev who began his second round on Saturday was three-over through six holes to be 11-over, while the lead was held by Ricky Barnes, who has so far got to play all 36 holes in near ideal conditions.

Barnes was at a two-round record-breaking total of eight-under 132 with rounds of 67 and 65.

Barnes, once the brightest star in amateur golf after winning the 2002 Amateur title, has had rounds of 67 and 65. He completed his second round on Saturday morning with three birdies in nine holes for a 65. His total broke by one shot the record of 133 set by Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh at Olympia Fields in 2003.

Woods, looking to retain the crown he won after a dramatic play-off last year, will after his 74 need to score well to come inside top-60 or be within 10 shots of the leader Barnes.

Woods was one-under through five holes in second round to be three-over for the tournament as the cut was expected to be around four or five over.

Meanwhile, many others like Ernie Els have already bid goodbye at 15-over after rounds of 78 and 77.

Jeev, who made his major debut here in 2002, added, “I enjoyed the three-ball with Vijay (Singh) and KJ (Choi) but the luck of the draw was against us. It was terrible weather yesterday (Thursday) and great on Friday. So the guys who go out and play first round today are lucky. And tomorrow (Saturday) when we play the second round, the forecast is again rains and thunder storm. Well that’s luck of the draw and golf.”

Jeev is not the only one in a rocky boat. Tiger Woods (74) is 12 off the lead and Vijay Singh is 10 off the lead. And they all play their second round on Saturday, when weather seemed to hold up for the “Lucky Half” of the draw.

While Woods has his task cut out, Phil Mickelson, a big hit with the New York crowds, has managed to hang in with round of 69 and 70 at one-under 36 holes. He is a sentimental favourite after recent revelation that his wife, Amy, was struck by breast cancer.

Trailing Barnes by one is Lucas Glover, who never made the cut in his previous three appearances at the US Open. Glover, who could have got past Barnes with a 20-foot birdie on the final hole, settled for a bogey instead and is one behind the leader.

Mike Weir, who won the Masters in 2003, a year when the first day was a washout at Augusta, led the first round with a 64, but then had an even par 70 on second day to be third.

A surprise fourth was Japan’s Azuma Yano (72-65) and he shared the place with David Duval (67-70) and Peter Hanson (66-71) at 137.

On Saturday, as the “Unlucky Half” comes to play, the weather forecast for the afternoon is rain and thunder storm.

One half of the draw getting all the goodies and the other half has been left to the mercies of the Weather Gods. After the half of the field which went out first on Thursday finally finished their first round on Friday, they went back to keeping looking at the lovely sunny skies while the latter half first played the first round and then turned around within 60 minutes for the second round in perfect weather.

The net result is that those who went out first on Thursday are still struggling to find a place over the final two rounds while the other half is sitting pretty with comfortable red numbers and scores of under-par.

More rain was expected around mid-day Saturday and after a lot of work to repair the damage of Thursday’s downpour, further rain may make things tough indeed. The slushy grounds at Bethpage and the soggy fairways and indeed some greens, which were water-logged on Thursday and even Friday morning, may be so again and render conditions unplayable.

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