Friday, 19 March 2010
U.S. Open - Third Round  (Getty Images)
U.S. Open - Third Round (Getty Images)

Ross Fisher continued to lead the European Tour challenge at The US Open Championship - as unheralded American Ricky Barnes maintained a healthy advantage at the top of the leaderboard.

Fisher was tied for fifth on two under after 12 holes of his third round, one behind Todd Hamilton and Mike Weir and four behind second placed Lucas Glover.

However, Barnes was a further three shots clear on nine under as he looked to emulate 2003 Open champion Ben Curtis in making his maiden professional victory a Major.

The American, playing his first full year on the PGA Tour in his seventh year as a professional, picked up a birdie at the par four second hole before holing a sensational putt for eagle on the par five fourth.

Dropped shots at the seventh and tenth stunted his progress, but he still retained a commanding lead as his main challengers faltered.

Glover, who started the day on seven under, picked up a shot on the fourth but dropped four shots in three holes between the sixth and eighth before fighting back with birdies at the tenth and 11th.

Weir also slipped back from his overnight score of six under to leave Barnes clear of the field.

Fisher, meanwhile, was putting together a solid third round - pitching to within a foot at the fourth en route to a birdie before stringing together a succession of pars.

A first bogey of the day at the 12th saw the 28 year old drop back to level par for the day, yet he remained in contention for a first Major Championship victory.

Two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen was at one under following a second successive round of 68, along with world number two Phil Mickelson and Swede Peter Hanson.

Graeme McDowell carded 69 to be on level par, one ahead of Oliver Wilson and Soren Hansen who posted 70 and 71 respectively.

Lee Westwood was one over through 14 holes, the Englishman dropping down the field following birdies in two of his opening four holes.

Defending champion and world number one Tiger Woods was alongside Westwood, while Spain’s Sergio Garcia and Australia’s Adam Scott were a shot further back as they approached the end of their rounds.

United States Golf Association officials were still confident of beginning the final round later today and of finally getting the tournament finished tomorrow, providing they avoided further stoppages.

“The forecast for the afternoon is relatively good,” Mike Davis, the USGA Senior Director of Rules and Competitions, said.

“We could see some light showers but they are not thinking thunderstorms or anything heavy.

“So if that's the case, we will play as long as we can.

“We will resume round four at some time tomorrow morning, that is yet to be determined, and then if we have a play-off it would go sometime tomorrow afternoon.”

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