Commentary

Jason Sobel's U.S. Open blog

Originally Published: June 21, 2009
By Jason Sobel | ESPN.com

2:30 p.m. ET: Milli Vanilli once recorded a song called "Blame It on the Rain." There's no truth to the rumor that callers to the USGA's headquarters in Far Hills, N.J., have been treated to this melodic feast while placed on hold in the past week.

Even so, this could have served as the theme music to the 109th U.S. Open Championship, a tournament in which the rain reigned. Not one of the first four days of play saw a round that wasn't stalled in progress. The inclement weather wreaked havoc on tee times, course conditions and spectator schedules. It pushed the final-round proceedings to Monday despite the tournament's requiring no playoff. It was, to be honest, one big, wet mess.

And yet, this year's edition of the U.S. Open will be remembered for more than just precipitation and squeegees.

It will be remembered for the champion, Lucas Glover, who got himself into a high-pressure system of his own on the final day. Having missed the cut in each of his previous three Open appearances, Glover rose to the challenge in claiming his first major championship title. He was neither the most exciting nor the most interesting player at any point, but he did take the crown for most consistent, posting just one birdie and one bogey to go along with seven pars on the back nine en route to a 2-stroke victory. It was classic U.S. Open golf: The last man standing earned the hardware.

It will be remembered for Phil Mickelson's valiant march through Bethpage while so much more important stuff weighed on his mind. Buoyed by the frenzied and supportive New York galleries, the indefatigable left-hander enjoyed a uniquely Mickelsonian performance at the Black, a whirlwind combination of birdies and bogeys, negating the notion that this event is all about collecting pars. Some might criticize Phil for having finished runner-up in a fifth career Open, but really, such results speak to his prowess at this tournament. How else to explain the fact that he passed Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer on the all-time list of second-place U.S. Open finishes?

It will be remembered for the unpredictable resurgence of David Duval, who showed up on the leaderboard when we least expected it. For years, the former No. 1-ranked player has been preaching to anyone willing to listen that his game is back and he's more confident than ever. Although the results never confirmed those assertions, Duval did prove he's back with a second-place result that in itself could be viewed as a microcosm of his career. In each of the four rounds, he soared to over par early on, only to battle back later on. Expect Duval to keep battling in his efforts to regain past ascendancies.

It will be remembered for Ricky Barnes, last seen capturing the U.S. Amateur and taking down Tiger Woods as a cocksure college prospect at the 2003 Masters. A can't-miss kid out of the University of Arizona, Barnes toiled on the Nationwide circuit for half a decade before finally earning status as a PGA Tour rookie this year. Of course, nothing in his 2009 season signified he would remain on the U.S. Open leaderboard for four rounds. Ranked 197th on the money list and dead last in putting average, Barnes parlayed a record-setting 36-hole start into a career-best result, restating his prominence in the process.

It will be remembered for the wouldas, couldas and shouldas on the putting greens for the world's top-ranked player. Simply put, the game's most dominant putter looked shaky with the flatstick in his hands, even admitting as much afterward. "I striped it this week," said Woods, who finished in a share of sixth place. "I hit it just like I did at Memorial, and unfortunately I didn't make anything. … My good ones are not going in, and then my bad ones aren't even close. It is a little bit slow and bumpy, but you have to be committed to hitting it that hard, and I left a lot of putts short. And then when I tried to hit it harder, I gunned it past the hole. But I didn't make the adjustment the right way." Now, Woods will make the adjustment to having just two more majors left this season in hopes of claiming his 15th career victory.

And it will be remembered for the New York fans, at once boisterous and vociferous, a roped-off collective ball of energy that ignited the festivities at this state-run facility. In almost no other location would fans chant "Let's go, Phil! Let's go, Phil!" or tweak Tiger for using an umbrella in something less than a downpour.

In the end, it went from a Milli Vanilli tournament to one whose theme could have been crooned by Sinatra, who famously sang of the Big Apple: "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere." Lucas Glover finally hit the big time, and he did so on one of the grandest stages in golf. The newest U.S. Open champion made it here, and, when it was all said and done, he made us forget about blaming the rain.

Thanks for the thousands -- literally -- of e-mails and tweets throughout the past eight days of U.S. Open coverage. The live blog will return next month at Turnberry, site of this year's British Open Championship. Until then, hit 'em straight …


2:01 p.m. ET: Love this e-mail from Jim in Parts Unknown:

Tiger wins again. No, not Tiger Woods … a Clemson TIGER!!

Ha!


1:54 p.m. ET: E-mail from Michael in Michigan:

What does David Duval's second-place finish do for him for this year and next? Does he qualify for the next two majors and next year's Masters? Will his money be enough to secure a card for next year?

It does a ton of good stuff for him. First, Double-D will now be eligible for each of the next four major championships -- the British Open and PGA this year, and the 2010 Masters and U.S. Open. As for trying to keep his card -- something that was very much in doubt entering this week -- he went a long way toward earning full privileges for next season. Like fellow runners-up Phil Mickelson and Ricky Barnes, Duval earns $559,830. Believe it or not, he had won only $53,284 in 2009 coming into this week. That new total now puts him at 80-something on the money list, well within the top 125. Based on last year's money list, he'd need to earn about a quarter-million more to retain his card.


1:48 p.m. ET: E-mail from Miller in Houston on something that the TV folks often discussed but I didn't get into much in the Live Blog:

There was a great story to this. Glover was a pupil of the great and late Dick Harmon, who died unexpectedly a little while back. He would be proud.

No doubt. His former instructor was a member of golf's famed Harmon family. I can almost guarantee that Lucas was both thinking about him out there on the course and will talk about him in his many interviews in the hours, days and weeks to come.


1:43 p.m. ET: Lots of support for Lucas Glover, especially from the Clemson Tigers fans out there …

From David in Greenville, S.C.:

I live in Greenville, graduated from Clemson and am thrilled for Lucas and his family.

From Brian in Sumter, S.C.:

OMG! I took the day off and it was my job to text a plethora of Clemson Nation and keep them updated. It's time to CELEBRATE!!

From Ben in Parts Unknown:

As a Clemson Grad, I'm very proud to be a Tiger, and today makes it even better! Go Lucas!


1:38 p.m. ET: Phil Mickelson now owns the dubious distinction of owning the most career U.S. Open second-place finishes. Here is the list:

• Phil Mickelson: 5 (1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009)

• Jack Nicklaus: 4 (1960, 1968, 1971, 1982)

• Arnold Palmer: 4 (1962, 1963, 1966, 1967)

• Sam Snead: 4 (1937, 1947, 1949, 1953)

• Robert T. Jones Jr.: 4 (1922, 1924, 1925, 1928)

Of those players, only Mickelson and Snead never won the U.S. Open.


1:35 p.m. ET: Though neither 519th-ranked Ricky Barnes nor 882nd-ranked David Duval were able to win the U.S. Open, Lucas Glover is still among the lowest-ranked players to earn the hardware.

Here is a list of the lowest-ranked players to win since the OWGR was initiated in 1986:

1996: Steve Jones (100)
1990: Hale Irwin (90)
2005: Michael Campbell (80)
2009: Lucas Glover (71)


1:33 p.m. ET: Lucas Glover becomes the first qualifier to win the U.S. Open since Michael Campbell in 2005.

This also ensures a ninth straight year in which we have a first-time major champion, which speaks to the depth of the sport right now.


1:30 p.m. ET: It wouldn't be the Live Blog if we didn't have an end-of-tourney haiku or two.

From Bo in Philadelphia:

The '09 Open,
Days of downpours and delays.
Champ: Lucas Glover.

White shirt, khaki pants
Has no sartorial flair
Shocking champion.


1:24 p.m. ET: Let's check the inbox for reaction to Lucas Glover's victory …

From Robert in Parts Unknown:

I'm not sure how impressive a 3-over 73 is from Glover. OK, he didn't blow up like Barnes. But he was outplayed today by almost everybody in contention. I commend him for hanging on, but that's all he did.

Dude just won the U.S. Open! All that was needed was hanging on. Simply put, there wasn't a 64 out there today. Glover did what he needed to do to win. Let's not criticize because a two-stroke differential over the field wasn't enough.

From Dave in Goldsboro, N.C.:

What the heck's up with Glover? He acted like he just finished a Tuesday practice round.

Obviously not a real emotional guy, though when he hugged his wife Jennifer, he appeared to break down a little bit.

From Brian in Parts Unknown:

So Glover is officially the least popular golfer on the planet. Sergio should thank him.

A lot of the e-mailers are taking my previous comments the wrong way. I meant nothing against Glover personally, but those who were "rooting for the story" will be disappointed that neither David Duval nor Phil Mickelson won the tournament.


1:21 p.m. ET: A few notes on Lucas Glover:

• This is his second career PGA Tour win (and first since the 2005 Funai Classic at Walt Disney World).

• This is his first career major win (he had never made a cut at three previous U.S. Opens). His best previous finish at a major was T-20 at the 2007 Masters.

• This is his third top-5 finish of 2009 (T-2 at Quail Hollow; T-3 at the Buick Invitational).


1:20 p.m. ET: Now that leaves Lucas Glover with a chance to two-putt from 2 feet away … and he doesn't need it.

Glover knocks in the putt and he is your 2009 U.S. Open champion!!!


1:19 p.m. ET: Ricky Barnes with about 25 feet left for birdie …

It's going right at the hole and ... misses!

Oh wow. What a great effort by Barnes. He couldn't have hit it any better.

That was so close to going in and putting some pressure on Lucas Glover.


1:17 p.m. ET: Lucas Glover hits a nice lag down to about 2 feet above the hole.

Let's not forget about Ricky Barnes, though. At 2-under, he can make and if -- somehow -- Glover misses, we're going to a playoff.


1:13 p.m. ET: Lucas Glover just needs to hit something pretty good here on 18 … and he does just that.

Decent approach to the back-left fringe. If he can get in the hole in three strokes from there, he's the champion.

I'm really, really impressed with Glover today. This is a guy who, quite frankly, has played some pretty poor golf in high-pressure situations in the past. He tends to fade from leaderboards in the final round, not climb 'em, which makes what he's doing today all the more impressive.


1:09 p.m. ET: Knowing he needs just a bogey to win the U.S. Open -- he likely would have thought differently had a loud roar emanated from the green for a Duval birdie -- Glover simply takes a mid-iron off the tee and knocks it down the right side.

He can now put his next shot on the green and three-putt to win the 109th U.S. Open championship.


1:07 p.m. ET: Much like Phil Mickelson before him and so many others today, David Duval is well above the hole on 18.

With a lengthy birdie putt to move to within one of the lead … oooh, it breaks right just at the end and doesn't drop into the hole.

If he cleans up from there, DD will finish at 2-under 278, tied for second place. Remarkable week for him.


1:05 p.m. ET: One note on Lucas Glover's putting, which has looked strong throughout the week: He is playing with the new Nike prototype putter, which he has had in his bag since the Bob Hope Classic earlier in the year. And his putting stats have improved since making the switch. Before this week, Glover was ranked 23rd in putts per round and 32nd in putting average. Last year, he was ranked 116th and 107th respectively.


1:04 p.m. ET: Lucas Glover standing over the putt … and a breeze blows through. He steps away.

Now back over it, Glover calmly knocks it into the hole.

He's up by 2 with one hole to play.


1:03 p.m. ET: Nice lag putt by Lucas Glover on 17 to about 2 feet.

Then again, we're only five minutes removed from seeing someone miss from that range.

I won't give it to him 'til he makes it.


1:01 p.m. ET: Poor Lucas Glover.

He may very well win the U.S. Open today … and in the process become the most disliked golfer around, simply by stealing the stage from Phil Mickelson and David Duval, each of whom would have made for an incredible story.

Of course, it's not over yet.


12:59 p.m. ET: Phil Mickelson gives it a great run for birdie on 18 … but it doesn't fall.

He taps in for par to take the clubhouse lead at 2-under 278.

There's nothing else he can do right now but sit and wait to see what happens with Glover.


12:58 p.m. ET: This is now officially Lucas Glover's tournament to lose.

Up by 2, Glover just hit his tee shot on 17 to about 20 feet left of the hole.

Based on the situation, that's a fantastic shot.


12:57 p.m. ET: Uh-oh. Blog Jinx?

David Duval with that short par save on 17 … misses it!!!

DD horseshoes his putt and it doesn't drop. That's a bogey and drops him to 2-under, two behind Glover.


12:55 p.m. ET: The good news for Phil Mickelson is that he found the fairway on 18.

The bad news is that he's two shots back and just hit his approach shot to 25 feet above the hole.

Tough birdie putt from there.


12:55 p.m. ET: After missing the green short on 17, DD hits a nice chip to about 2 feet.

Should be able to save par from there and remain one shot back.


12:54 p.m. ET: This just in: If there is a playoff, it will begin at 2 p.m. ET. ESPN would carry the first two hours. NBC would pick up coverage at 4 p.m.


12:52 p.m. ET: Lucas Glover hasn't posted a birdie all day … until now.

Glover drains his 6-footer on 16 to get back to 4-under.

He now leads by 1 over DD and 2 over Ross Fisher, Ricky Barnes and Phil Mickelson.


12:51 p.m. ET: E-mail from Mike in Edmonds, Wash.:

Would a Mickelson-Duval playoff be one of the greatest golf stories ever?

"Ever" is a long time … but yeah.


12:50 p.m. ET: Shhhhhh!

Let's not forget about Ross Fisher.

One off the lead, he just hit his approach on 17 to about 30 feet. He'll have that to share the lead.


12:48 p.m. ET: Speaking of 6-footers, they're not easy.

Just ask Phil Mickelson, who failed to get up and down from off the green on 17, missing one from 6 feet away.

He drops to 2-under with one hole left.

How many demons would Mickelson exorcise with a birdie on the final hole of the U.S. Open to win or force a playoff?


12:47 p.m. ET: Lucas Glover isn't going away.

He just stiffed one at No. 16, will have about 6 feet for birdie.


12:46 p.m. ET: Just a quick thought: You deserve this, golf fans.

After four days of weather delays and other strange happenings here at Bethpage, you deserved a dramatic final round with some compelling figures.

Enjoy it.


12:43 p.m. ET: Avidde Uvalde!!!

It doesn't matter what we call him, David Duval is on a roll right now.

Three straight birdies, including this one from 8 feet on 16.

And David Duval is tied for the U.S. Open lead with two to play.

You might want to read that sentence a few more times.

That would be 882nd-ranked David Duval. Leading. The U.S. Open.

Unbelievable.


12:41 p.m. ET: Hmmm … who are the fans rooting for?

As Mickelson walks toward the 17th green, the gallery breaks into a "Let's go, Phil! Let's go, Phil!" chant.

Pretty cool stuff. You don't see this on the PGA Tour every week.


12:40 p.m. ET: Phil Mickelson has gone birdie-birdie-par at the par-3 17th this week, but he just missed the green with his tee shot.

He'll have a tough up-and-down from there.


12:39 p.m. ET: David Duval -- oops, Avidde Uvalde -- is one stroke back with three holes to play at the U.S. Open.

Unreal.

It may not last long, though. … That's because DD just ripped an 8-iron from the fairway on 16 to about 10 feet. He'll have that left for birdie.


12:37 p.m. ET: Drop one name off that list.

After hitting the flagstick and watching his ball ricochet into the fringe, Mahan can't convert his par and drops to 1-under with two to play.


12:35 p.m. ET: Lucas Glover misses the comebacker for par.

And we have co-leaders once again, as Glover drops to 3-under.

Quick leaderboard check:

Glover: -3
Mickelson: -3
Duval: -2
Fisher: -2
Barnes: -2
Mahan: -2


12:33 p.m. ET: Lucas Glover with about a 50-foot birdie attempt on 15 …

Looks like a nice lag, but gets to the hole and just keeps on going, about 10 feet past.

That's more than a knee-knocker coming back.


12:30 p.m. ET: Sergio Garcia thinks Hunter Mahan just got screwed.

Apparently, the golf gods hate Mahan, too. He hits his approach on 16 stiff … but turns out it was too stiff, caroming off the flagstick and bouncing away.

With Mahan currently at 2-under, it would have been huge if that one had stayed where it was.


12:28 p.m. ET: Hey, didn't you used to be Ricky Barnes?

He's been leaking oil all day, but Barnes has actually played his last four holes in even par and is still in the mix at 2-under.

Just hit a great approach on 15 that hopped just past the hole and off the back.


12:27 p.m. ET: Ross Fisher cleans up his bogey, drops to 2-under with three to play.


12:24 p.m. ET: Avidde Uvalde!!!

Double-D drains a second straight birdie putt on 15 and he's back to 2-under with three to play. Definitely within shouting distance.

Just thinking out loud here: What kind of odds could you have gotten before the week on DD finishing ahead of TW on the leaderboard?


12:23 p.m. ET: Ross Fisher's par putt hits David Duval's marker and stops about 4 feet short of the hole on 15.

Wow, that was strange.


12:19 p.m. ET: Just for reference's sake, here are Phil Mickelson's back-nine U.S. Open scores since he turned pro:

2008: 2-under 34
2006: 2-over 37
2005: 3-over 38
2004: 1-over 36
2003: 2-over 37
2002: even-par 35
2001: 4-over 39
2000: 3-over 39
1999: 1-over 36
1998: 1-over 36
1997: 2-over 37
1996: 1-over 36
1995: 2-over 37
1994: 4-over 40

Right now, Mickelson is 2-under through six holes on the back nine.


12:17 p.m. ET: Nice lag putt by Lucas Glover on 14.

After a tournament that has been besieged by red numbers for a few days, wouldn't it be ironic if the U.S. Open reverted to old form, with the winner making par on each of the back nine holes?

So far, Glover has made five straight to start the back.


12:13 p.m. ET: Knee-knocker for Phil Mickelson from about 3 feet on No. 15 … and he misses it!

Mickelson knocks it about 3 feet past. He does clean up for bogey, but that drops him to 3-under, in a share of second place with Ross Fisher, one behind Lucas Glover.

If Phil loses this tourney by one, that's the one he'll be thinking about all night.


12:12 p.m. ET: Lucas Glover took a long time looking at the short tee shot on 14.

He hits it to the left part of the green, well above the hole. Long one for birdie. He'd love a two-putt.


12:07 p.m. ET: Ross Fisher trying to join the leaders at 4-under … but misses.

Good attempt by Fisher on 14. He remains 1 stroke back with four to play.


12:06 p.m. ET: Nothing for Hendley and Johnson to cheer about on 13.

Lucas Glover had a great birdie opportunity on the par-5, but couldn't make the putt. He's now carded 10 pars and three bogeys in the final round.

Glover stays at 4-under, tied for the lead with Mickelson.


12:03 p.m. ET: When Lucas Glover showed up at the course today, he got a little surprise.

His cousins, Todd Hendley and Billy Johnson, purchased U.S. Open tickets on eBay yesterday for 40 bucks, then drove through the night 10 hours from North Carolina to see their cuz.

And they're not exactly disguising themselves, either. Each is wearing a shirt reading, "Lucas Locos" on the front and "Lucas, We Got Your Back" on the back.


12:02 p.m. ET: After driving it left on 13, Lucas Glover knocks one down the fairway, then hits his third shot to pin-high, about 8 feet away.

He'll have that left to reclaim the solo lead.


12:01 p.m. ET: Winged Foot? What Winged Foot?

Phil Mickelson's drive on 15 goes … left.

But not so far left that it's unplayable by any means. He's in the rough but has it sitting up nicely.


11:56 a.m. ET: Don't sleep on Ross Fisher!

After seeing no eagles on No. 13 for four-and-a-half days, there have now been two in the past 10 minutes or so, as the guy known simply as "Fish" makes one to move to 3-under, just one behind Phil Mickelson and Lucas Glover.

For a tourney that saw so much separation between the leaders earlier, isn't this exactly what you want to see? Back nine of the U.S. Open, and there are six players within three strokes of the lead.

Entertaining, dramatic stuff.


11:54 a.m. ET: Phil Mickelson can't convert the birdie putt on 14, but taps in for par and stays at 4-under with four to play.

He's now crossing the road, where the crowds are bigger and louder and want nothing more than a Mickelson victory.

Can he feed off of that energy? So far this week, he has played the final four holes in 3 under par.


11:51 a.m. ET: E-mail from Jason in Parts Unknown:

This question has to be asked: Since it looks like Phil will at least have a share of the lead coming down the stretch, how much will Winged Foot come into his head? Is there any way he won't think about that shot?

You're right. The question does have to be asked. And the answer is no. There's absolutely no way the final shot of some tournament from three years ago comes into his head this afternoon.

If Mickelson were still without a major title? Maybe, but the guy owns three of 'em. I don't believe he's nearly as haunted by that double-bogey at Winged Foot as everyone seems to believe.


11:49 a.m. ET: Nice shot by Phil Mickelson on the par-3 14th.

He'll have about a 15-footer left for birdie.

Gotta wonder whether Lucas Glover is looking at the leaderboard right now.


11:47 a.m. ET: Anytime you're on a list with Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, you're in pretty good company.

And yet, Phil Mickelson is hoping he remains tied with them rather than breaking their record.

That's because that record, which Phil now shares, is for the most career runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open with four.

From Pinehurst to Shinnecock to Winged Foot, Phil Mickelson has come so close, so often. Could this be his time?


11:45 a.m. ET: There have been no eagles on 13 yet this week.

Until now.

Phil Mickelson draws the loudest applause of the week by sinking his 5-foot eagle attempt on 13.

And we have co-leaders at the top. Mickelson and Lucas Glover are now tied at 4-under.

Let Mickel-mania begin.


11:41 a.m. ET: Tiger Woods' week at Bethpage has ended, fittingly, with a birdie putt that missed by a few inches on the final hole.

That was the story of his tournament, really.

It's not an excuse -- certainly not one that he'll make -- but Woods missed an incredibly large number of birdie opportunities, especially over the last two rounds.

He's now the clubhouse leader at even par.

That means he can go find Henrik Stenson and say, "Hej då!" Or "Adjö´!" Or "Adjö´ så lä´nge!"


11:39 a.m. ET: What was that I wrote about Phil Mickelson struggling on the par-5 holes?

He just belted one from 229 yards on the 13th to within about 5 feet.

Mickelson will have that left for eagle and a share of the lead.

Wow.


11:37 a.m. ET: Another fairway hit for Lucas Glover on No. 12. He's starting to look very comfortable, as if he is thinking only about each shot rather than everything at stake.

And at this moment, Glover has to keep thinking: par, par, par.

Par is his friend right now. He needs to have the mentality that if someone is going to tie him, they'll have to come from behind.


11:35 a.m. ET: Hey, Ricky Barnes: Jason Gore called. He feels your pain.

Another bogey for Barnes, his sixth in 11 holes. And he now makes it a foursome at 2-under, two shots behind Lucas Glover, who made another routine par on 11.


11:28 a.m. ET: Phil Mickelson is within two shots of the lead.

Long birdie putt on No. 12 puts him in a share of third place with Ross Fisher and Hunter Mahan.

Love him or hate him -- and nearly every fan in the New York gallery here loves Phil -- you have to admit that this would be an absolutely huge story if Mickelson could pull off a victory today.

And, oh by the way … Phil has played the final seven holes in 4-under so far this week.


11:24 a.m. ET: Entering the final round, Lucas Glover had hit 77 percent of fairways and 82 percent of greens in regulation.

Entering the 11th hole of the final round, he had hit 3 of 8 fairways and 3 of 10 greens in reg.

Looks like he's starting to get it back a bit, though. Glover finds the short stuff on 11.

Here's a good fact for you: In three previous career U.S. Open starts, Glover had never made the cut. In the last 25 years, Lee Janzen at the 1993 U.S. Open is the only golfer to win any major in which he had never previously made the cut. Like Glover, Janzen had missed three U.S. Open cuts before winning the '93 crown.


11:18 a.m. ET: Tiger Woods for birdie on 16 … nope.

Knocks it past the hole, but makes par from there.

Four back, two to play.


11:15 a.m. ET: Apparently, Hunter Mahan has decided not to two-putt any greens today. Nope, all three-putts or one-putts.

Mahan holes his birdie at No. 11 and is now two behind Lucas Glover, one back from Ricky Barnes and -- shhhhh! -- tied with Ross Fisher.


11:14 a.m. ET: Nice approach by Tiger Woods on 16, leaves it about 12 feet below the hole.

If nothing else, Woods could be the clubhouse leader in a little while.

He could tell Stenson to go home. And he could tell him in Swedish, too. Really.


11:13 a.m. ET: Lucas Glover has been hitting fairways and greens all week.

He does it again on No. 10, will have a birdie putt coming up.


11:09 a.m. ET: OK, you're Henrik Stenson. Here's your dilemma: Pack up the courtesy car and leave for the airport? Or stick around, have some lunch and hang out for a while?

Chances are, the Players champion isn't going anywhere right now.

He's currently the clubhouse leader at 1-over, in a share of 10th place.


11:07 a.m. ET: Tiger Woods is gonna leave Bethpage with some bad memories of the 15th hole.

He's now played the par-4 in 4-over this week, thanks to another bogey just now, as he failed to get up and down from behind the green.

Woods drops back to even-par, 4 strokes behind the leader with three to play.

He's not out of it yet. But he's not exactly in it right now, either.


11:05 a.m. ET: Ricky Barnes is starting to look like the 519th-ranked player in the world.

After a front-nine 40, he just blew his opening tee shot on the back side way left into the rough.

Rickety Barnes, indeed.


11:03 a.m. ET: Long par attempt won't fall for Lucas Glover and he takes a bogey on No. 9.

How crazy is it that he came into the final round of the U.S. Open in second place, shot a front-nine 3-over 38 ... and now leads by 1?

Glover falls to 4-under, while Ricky Barnes finally makes a par to stop the bleeding and stay at 3-under.

Oh, and just for the hell of it ... Ross Fisher. Don't forget the name.


11:01 a.m. ET: Just a little while ago, Hunter Mahan was in position to make a serious run at the lead.

Now he's tied with Tiger Woods, Mike Weir and Phil Mickelson at 1-under after a second 3-putt in three holes.


10:59 a.m. ET: Phil Mickelson gets an incredible break on No. 10, as his ball goes through the fescue somehow and stops on a path.

From there, he can't even see the green but hits a great shot to within a foot. He'll save par from there to remain at 1-under.


10:58 a.m. ET: Too much adrenaline?

Tiger Woods appears to like his approach on No. 15, but it flies the green and winds up some 10-15 yards past.

Tough up and down coming back from there.


10:56 a.m. ET: Even when Ricky Barnes hits a good shot, it winds up poor.

His approach on 9 looked like it was all over the stick, but comes up just short and in the rough surrounding the front of the green.

Meanwhile, Lucas Glover is in trouble after a poor second shot. He could be looking at a dropped shot here.


10:51 a.m. ET: Put down that fork!

After a great tee shot on the par-3 14th, Tiger Woods converts his birdie attempt to move into red figures for the first time all week!

It would be some kind of sweet irony for Tiger if the four holes that confounded him on Friday morning -- in the continuation of the opening round, he played Nos. 15-18 in 4-over with a double and two bogeys -- could help him win on Monday.


10:49 a.m. ET: You know things are bad for Ricky Barnes when the research folks start sending me info on the worst scores by a U.S. Open 54-hole leader since 1970:

• 2005 -- Retief Goosen, Pinehurst No. 2: 81
• 1992 -- Gil Morgan, Pebble Beach: 81
• 2007 -- Aaron Baddeley, Oakmont: 80
• 1974 -- Tom Watson, Winged Foot: 79
• 1989 -- Tom Kite, Oak Hill: 78
• 1975 -- Frank Beard, Medinah: 78

Barnes is currently 5-over through eight holes. Wheels are off.


10:47 a.m. ET: Lucas Glover makes a third straight par on No. 8.

He would give anything for 10 more of 'em, then take his chances that no one will catch him from behind.

And Glover now leads by 2, because Ricky Barnes makes a fourth consecutive bogey to fall to 3-under.


10:44 a.m. ET: Mike Weir using a 2-iron hybrid for his second shot on the 10th hole and ... whoa!!

Almost goes in for eagle! The ball runs right over the hole, but keeps going about 10 feet past. Will have that left for birdie to move to 2-under.


10:41 a.m. ET: If Phil Mickelson replicates his third-round back-nine performance, there's a great chance he'll have his first U.S. Open title in a few hours.

Mickelson shot a back-nine 32 yesterday. Here are his career rounds on that side of the course at Bethpage:

• 2009 Round 3: 32
• 2002 Round 3: 33
• 2009 Round 1: 34
• 2002 Round 4: 35
• 2002 Round 1: 35
• 2009 Round 2: 36
• 2002 Round 2: 36

Another 32 would put him at 4-under when he's finished. Like I wrote, that could be enough. Even 33 or maybe 34 could do it, too.


10:39 a.m. ET: Over the first 36 holes of this tournament, Ricky Barnes made one bogey.

In his last three holes, he's made three bogeys.

Barnes drops another shot on No. 7 to fall to 4-under.

And the news gets worse: Off the tee on 8, he's found the rough once again.


10:38 a.m. ET: Phil Mickelson does indeed convert his birdie putt.

And just like that, he's 4 off the lead.


10:37 a.m. ET: Did somebody fork Tiger Woods already?

Just barely misses his eagle attempt on No. 13, but taps in for birdie and is now even-par. That's five back with five to play.


10:35 a.m. ET: If Phil Mickelson makes bogey here, something would have gone terribly wrong.

From the fairway on No. 9, Mickelson knocks one to about 2 feet. Will have that for birdie to get back to red figures.


10:33 a.m. ET: After that shank on the seventh led to bogey, David Duval -- yes, we're using his name now -- comes back with a 40-foot snaking putt for birdie to move back to even-par.

Even so, he started the round at 3-under. Duval would love to get back to that number again.


10:31 a.m. ET: The Ricky Barnes train has officially come off the tracks.

Out of the greenside bunker on No. 7, Barnes opens up the club face and hits it way right of the hole.

Not sure if it's nerves or what, but he doesn't look very good right now at all.


10:28 a.m. ET: On the heels of back-to-back bogeys, Phil Mickelson avoids the three-peat by saving par on No. 8.


10:24 a.m. ET: Hunter Mahan blows a 40-foot birdie attempt on No. 8 about 10 feet past ... and misses the comebacker.

That's an awful mistake for Mahan. Just after getting within 2 of the lead, he drops a shot and is now 3 back.


10:23 a.m. ET: For the first time all week, the wind is really kicking up.

The earlier report of "gusty" was dead on.


10:22 a.m. ET: My buddy Dave would like to amend his earlier comment about Ricky Barnes:

"He's now the 2007 Tampa Bay Rays."

Ouch.


10:20 a.m. ET: Ricky Barnes misses his lengthy par attempt for a second straight bogey. The good news for him is that Lucas Glover can't convert his birdie putt, so we now have co-leaders once again at 5-under.

And for the first time, Hunter Mahan is just 2 shots back.


10:18 a.m. ET: Avidde Uvalde.

I think our pig latin caught a case of swine flu.

Let's just call him David Duval, because at this point, it doesn't matter. Big shank on No. 7. One of the TV commentators chalked it up to a mudball, but it's a bad shot either way.


10:17 a.m. ET: Pretty good shot by Barnes, who again muscles one out of the rough.

But he's still 25 feet away, will have that left for par.


10:14 a.m. ET: Ricky Barnes looks more like a linebacker than a pro golfer. Dude's a workout fiend who may spend more time in the gym than anyone else on tour.

That should help him when trying to swing from some of the thickest rough on this course on the sixth hole.

Or not.

Despite a mighty cut, Barnes can only advance it down the hole, but the ball stays well left. If he can't get up and down from that thick stuff, it'll be another bogey. Or worse.


10:13 a.m. ET: After his third round, Phil Mickelson said he believed a 5- or 6-under round was out there for him.

If it is, he hasn't found it yet.

Mickelson is currently at 2-over for the round after a second straight bogey.


10:11 a.m. ET: Nice approach by Lucas Glover to about 12 feet on No. 6.

With Barnes in trouble, could we be looking at a 2-shot swing at the top?


10:07 a.m. ET: Ricky Barnes is in trouble off the tee again on No. 6, while Lucas Glover is in the fairway.

I still think either one of 'em would take 13 more pars and take his chances, but that's easier said than done right now.


10:06 a.m. ET: From Matt in Parts Unknown:

Bad news for Ricky Barnes ... the Rays lost to the Phillies.

Which leads to this question: Which player is the Phillies?

Phillies = Phil? Hmmm ...


10:04 a.m. ET: Ricky Barnes and Lucas Glover each manage to salvage bogeys on No. 5 and all of a sudden, things are much tighter at the top.

Barnes leads by 1 over Glover, but Hunter Mahan is just 3 back, with Ross Fisher and Mike Weir -- who just holed out from a bunker on No. 7 -- 4 off the pace.


10:01 a.m. ET: Seeing a lot of penalty strokes for a course with one water hazard.

Lucas Glover's ball is embedded into the side of the bunker on No. 5 and he's forced to take an unplayable from there.

Like Barnes, he's looking at bogey, if not worse.


9:59 a.m. ET: Ross Fisher.

There. Just wanted to write his name. You know, just in case he actually wins this thing, I wanted to be able to say that I didn't totally ignore him the entire day.

Fisher is 2-under, in a share of fourth place with Mike Weir.


9:58 a.m. ET: Ricky Barnes from the thick fescue on No. 5 ... leaves it short of the green. Gonna be a tough shot from there. Barnes will drop at least a stroke here, maybe more.


9:56 a.m. ET: After making bogey on No. 5, Hunter Mahan bounces back with a birdie on 6, draining an 8-footer to once again move into solo fourth.


9:54 a.m. ET: E-mail from Rich in New Jersey:

Can I send you a fork to stick in Tiger after his bogey on 10?

Fork it, Rich. He's done. Fork away.

Woods is now 1-over, eight back with eight to play, in a share of 13th place.


9:52 a.m. ET: Great analogy from my buddy Dave in the ESPN Stats & Information department:

"Ricky Barnes is like the Tampa Bay Rays of 2008. He comes out of nowhere and everyone thinks he's gonna fade, but doesn't."


9:51 a.m. ET: Phil Mickelson found his ball, but that's not necessary a good thing.

He's forced to take an unplayable; will be dropping and hitting his third from there.

That's Lefty's fourth penalty stroke of the week. On a course with water in play on just one hole, that's not good.


9:48 a.m. ET: Ricky Barnes didn't convert that birdie on No. 4 -- he eagled it yesterday -- but does make par to retain a 1-shot lead.

His drive on the fifth finds the fairway. And as shaky as Barnes looked on the first hole-and-a-half of the final round yesterday, he looks calm, cool and collected right now.


9:46 a.m. ET: We've all done this: Try to play it safe, so you decide to use an iron off the tee ... except it winds up even worse than if you had busted out the big stick.

Well, it's just further proof that Phil Mickelson is just like us.

He hits an iron off the tee on the par-4 sixth hole and blows it way left. Send out the search party for that one.


9:44 a.m. ET: Lucas Glover from the fringe on No. 4 for birdie ... rolls it right at the hole, but it doesn't drop.

That's a par. He remains at 6-under with three pars and a bogey so far in the final round.

Remember, traditionally he's been a poor final-round performer. His Round 4 scoring average hasn't been better than 87th in any of the last three years.


9:42 a.m. ET: E-mail from Joe in San Antonio:

Where would a win by Ricky Barnes put him in the "most unlikely candidate to win a major" debate? I know recently guys like Todd Hamilton and Ben Curtis would be up there, but would this be the biggest "upset" at a major in golf?

Since the OWGR was established in 1986, Barnes would be the highest-ranked player to win a major. By far. He's currently No. 519 in the world.

After knocking one near the green on the par-5 fourth, Barnes hits an indifferent chip to about 15-20 feet. He'll have that left for birdie.


9:40 a.m. ET: Live blog of the live blog.

Time stops. Planets collide. World ending.


9:38 a.m. ET: After hitting his approach to pin high on No. 9, Tiger Woods misses the putt.

He's now seven back with nine to play; obviously, he needs to go low on the back nine.

How low can he go? Here are all of his previous back-nine scores at the Black:

• 2009 Round 3: 33
• 2002 Round 1: 33
• 2009 Round 2: 34
• 2002 Round 3: 34
• 2002 Round 2: 35
• 2002 Round 4: 36
• 2009 Round 1: 37

I don't think a 2-under 33 will be enough to get it done today.


9:36 a.m. ET: Avidde Uvalde.

With his triple on the fourth hole, DD is playing the first five holes at the U.S. Open at 7-over. He is playing holes 6-18 at 6-under.

The good news? Maybe that means his best golf is still ahead of him today.


9:33 a.m. ET: Teeing off on No. 4, Lucas Glover's foot totally slips underneath him.

As the TV commentators noted, he could have whiffed on that one.

Would have called to mind T.C. Chen, whose two-chip is thought about any time you or your golfing buddies double hits a shot. Any swing and a miss would heretofore be called a Lucas.

Instead, he's got a piece of it, finding the bunker.


9:30 a.m. ET: If Peter Hanson wins, it would be an incredible story.

About a month ago, Hanson competed in a sectional qualifier for the U.S. Open in England. Tied with two others going to the second playoff hole, he stepped up to the par-3 and aced it to earn a spot into the field.

"This game is just so stupid sometimes," Hanson said afterward. "Obviously, I am delighted to get through, but to do it like that is unbelievable. We were between clubs on the tee, but I thought that I would go for a full 6-iron and play for the middle of the green. You need a bit of luck with any hole-in-one, and I got my share today."

Hanson is currently 1-under, tied for 6th.

9:29 a.m. ET: Meanwhile, Ricky Barnes makes his par. He owns a 1-shot lead once again.


9:28 a.m. ET: Lucas Glover leaves his chip well short on No. 3, then misses the lengthy par attempt.

That's a bogey and he falls to 6-under.


9:25 a.m. ET: Speaking of Phil Mickelson, he saves par on the fourth hole.

Here's a surprising stat: In seven par-5 holes so far this week, Mickelson is even-par, with two birdies, three pars and two bogeys.


9:22 a.m. ET: Shhhhh!

This round could become the Hunter and the hunted.

Hunter Mahan makes birdie on No. 4 to move to 3-under, in sole possession of third place.

If I'm not mistaken, he's tied for the lead (with Phil Mickelson) in total birdies this week with 15.


9:21 a.m. ET: Lucas Glover has been a greens machine this week, reaching 82 percent of the greens in regulation so far.

Not on No. 3, though, as he yanks his tee shot on the par-3. Gonna be a tough up-and-down for par from there.


9:19 a.m. ET: Not even pig latin could have saved Avidde Uvalde from that lie.

With his ball buried in the bunker on No. 3, Double-D can only manage triple-bogey.

That drops him from 2-under to 1-over and from a share of third place to T-13.


9:17 a.m. ET: The old adage states that pars are good at the U.S. Open, but not when you're seven back with 11 to play.

Tiger Woods makes a routine par at No. 8 and now he's seven back with just 10 left.

Running out of time? Gettin' there.


9:14 a.m. ET: Avidde Uvalde!

A few days ago, in order to avoid placing the Blog Jinx on a certain player with the initials DD, one e-mailer suggested I only mention his name in pig latin.

Done and done.

He's currently in the group at 2-under, but has an awful, buried lie in the bunker at No. 3. So work to do from here.


9:10 a.m. ET: Is Tiger Woods still in this thing?

Perhaps the only thing he hasn't accomplished in his career is winning a major championship while coming from behind in the final round.

If he did it today, he'd have to come from way behind.

Woods started the round nine back and he's now down seven. First shot of the day on the par-3 eighth is solid, but finds the fringe below the hole.

Leads to this e-mail from Adam in NYC:

You caught a lot of flak for giving Tiger too much blog love while he was well off the leaderboard. Now is an appropriate time to remind people why: He's Tiger Woods. Which means despite an atrocious week with the flatstick he's a few birdies away from putting some serious pressure on the unseasoned leaders as they come in. Are we so sick of his greatness we ignore that even when he's far from his ridiculous "A Game" he can still beat most (all?) of the best players in the world?

Believe me, when he was 14 back yesterday, I had Tiger's hopes of winning this tournament dead and buried. It's still a long shot, considering he's seven back with 11 to play, but I suppose if you're going to bet on anyone to come back from such a deficit, it would be him.


9:08 a.m. ET: Almost an incredible up-and-down for Ricky Barnes.

Instead, his putt stays out by a few inches. Still, pretty good par. He looks much more relaxed than he did a little over 13 hours ago.


9:03 a.m. ET: Best headline of the day goes to the New York Post:

"Rickety Barnes"

After pulling his tee shot on No. 2 last night, Barnes punches out a terrific shot that lands about 25 feet above the pin. Hmmm ... nice placement with that lie.


9:02 a.m. ET: For the first time in five days, the weather forecast entering the round is ... actually pretty good.

Here's the official report from the USGA:

Today will not be a whole lot different than Sunday in terms of temperatures with highs generally in the low-70s and possibly up to the mid-70s with periods of sun. Winds will be gusty this morning and out of the north, but should die down a bit by mid-afternoon. The persistent low-pressure system will remain off the coast to our east. This situation will bring mostly cloudy skies and a threat for mainly afternoon showers. Any showers that do arrive will be less intense than yesterday and fairly fast moving. Most of the shower activity will be along the NY/CT border and move southward in to western Long Island.

Gusty winds? Watch out.


9 a.m. ET: To borrow a phrase from some other major championship, this is becoming a tradition unlike any other.

One year ago, the U.S. Open was decided on a Monday, as Tiger Woods edged out Rocco Mediate in a sudden death playoff at Torrey Pines. That, of course, was a different circumstance than today. Instead of knowing the trophy will be won by one of two players, the continuation of this year's final round brings seemingly endless possibilities.

There's Ricky Barnes, a former U.S. Amateur champion trying to complete an unexpectedly slow rise to the top. And fellow co-leader Lucas Glover, so dismayed with the game last year that he gave it up for a little while.

There's Phil Mickelson, the Cali kid who has become an adopted son of the New York fans, attempting to secure an elusive U.S. Open title during an emotional period, as his wife Amy has been recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

There's David Duval, once on top of the golf world, only to sink to the lowest depths, now ranked 882nd in the world but trying to bring his unlikely story full circle with a victory.

There's Tiger Woods, at 7 strokes off the lead perhaps too far back to seriously contend for his 15th major championship. Then again, do you want to be the one who tells him he's done?

There's Retief Goosen, seeking a third career major win. And Mike Weir, looking for his second. And Hunter Mahan, going for his first. And the international foursome of Ross Fisher, Graeme McDowell, Soren Hansen and Peter Hanson, each of whom could play the role of spoiler when it's all said and done.

Any one of 'em could become the newest U.S. Open champion in a few hours -- or a few more than a few hours, should this tournament end in a playoff once again.

I'm here on site at Bethpage Black, following all of these storylines and more here in the live blog throughout the day. For those who haven't been reading for the past seven -- that's right, seven -- days, welcome to the show. For those who have, expect shorter, more rapid-fire posts throughout the round, as I'll be keeping you updated on all of the action here on the course.

Oh, almost forgot. One more thing before we get started. My prediction: Ricky Barnes wins in a playoff over Lucas Glover. And yes, that will probably Blog Jinx each of 'em into looking like the triple-digit hackers that regularly populate this public track.

As always, I'll be posting your questions and comments throughout the day, so e-mail me at usopenblog@gmail.com or Twitter account JasonSobel to have your voice heard.

The 60 remaining players in the field are just now about to continue, so let's get going ...

Jason Sobel | email

Golf Editor, ESPN.com
Jason Sobel, who joined ESPN in 1997, earned four Sports Emmy awards as a member of ESPN's Studio Production department. He became ESPN.com's golf editor in July 2004.