Mickelson charges into contention

FARMINGDALE: Phil Mickelson charged into contention while Tiger Woods sustained hope for a record comeback at the US Open, both of them aided by Ricky Barnes squandering a six-stroke lead.

When darkness halted the fourth round of the rain-disrupted tournament at Bethpage Black, the unlikely US duo of Barnes and Lucas Glover shared the lead at seven-under par with 17 holes to finish. Barnes has never managed a top-10 PGA finish in six pro seasons while Glover won his only PGA title at the 2005 Disney Classic.

Mickelson shared third on two-under with countrymen David Duval and Hunter Mahan, all through two holes, and England’s Ross Fisher, who completed one. Mickelson, a three-time major champion, is a four-time US Open runner-up who has never won the event. Mickelson sank a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole — his fourth in the final six holes — to finish with a third-round 69. He fired seven birdies, four bogeys and a double bogey.

Defending champion Tiger Woods, seeking a 15th major crown to move three shy of matching the record 18 won by Jack Nicklaus, had a bogey-birdie start but a birdie at the par-4 seventh boosted his title bid. World No 1 Woods shared eighth on even par, one stroke behind Canada’s Mike Weir and seven adrift of the leaders with 11 holes remaining. Woods, never a major winner when not at least sharing the 54-hole lead, was nine back after round three and must erase Arnold Palmer’s record seven-stroke victory rally in 1960 to capture a record-tying fourth US Open title.

Barnes, whose ranking of 519th would be the worst-ever by a major winner, fumbled away a six-stroke edge at the turn of Sunday’s third round by starting and ending his back nine with bogeys and opening round four with another. Barnes had six bogeys in his last 13 holes after just one in his prior 42 and his last stroke was a second tee shot hooked into deep grass.

Barnes had the second-lowest 54-hole score in US Open history at eight-under 202 and with an eagle at the par-5 fourth became only the fourth man to reach 11-under par at any stage of a US Open, the first since 2003. Fisher, trying to become the first European to win the US Open since England’s Tony Jacklin in 1970, opened the last round with a bogey as he looked for a solution to putting woes. Duval, the 2001 British Open champion ranked 882nd in the world, is making a last-ditch effort to revive his career.