Ricky Barnes focuses on positives after blowing US Open lead with 12 bogeys over 24 holes

By John Nicholson, AP
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ricky Barnes remains upbeat after US Open meltdown

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Ricky Barnes took a six-stroke lead to the back nine on Sunday afternoon in the U.S. Open, and finished with a birdie and five straight pars.

A winning combination under ordinary circumstances in the testing national championship, but just another weird twist in the rain-delayed event that ended Monday.

After setting a 36-hole Open scoring record and reaching 11 under in the third round Sunday at swampy Bethpage Black, Barnes bogeyed 12 of the next 24 holes — the lunge in his swing at times looking more awkward than quirky.

“I don’t know if I made that many mental club errors or if I would have played it differently,” Barnes said. “I just needed to hit better shots.”

The 2002 U.S. Amateur winner finished two strokes behind playing partner Lucas Glover, shooting a 6-over 76 to tie for second at 2 under with Phil Mickelson and David Duval.

“Was I stoked with what I shot today? No. But was I happy with the last six holes? Yes,” said Barnes, only the fourth player in Open history to reach double digits under par.

“I would say a lot, lot more good came out of this week than bad.”

He earned $559,830 and spots in the British Open and 2010 Masters and U.S. Open — huge perks for a player who spent the last four full seasons on the Nationwide Tour and made only six cuts and $68,667 in 12 regular PGA Tour events this year. The former University of Arizona player jumped from 519th to 153rd in the world.

“It was a great week,” Barnes said. “If you told me I would have been 2 under, if you would have told me I was second, bridesmaid isn’t too bad. But when you know you’re right there, it’s a tough one to swallow.”

He made four straight bogeys in a front-nine 40 and also dropped strokes on consecutive holes early on the back nine.

Barnes began the day tied with Glover at 7 under — five strokes ahead of their nearest rivals — after rounds of 67, 65 and 70 and a bogey on No. 1 Sunday night in the last hole they completed before play was suspended because of darkness.

After hitting his final shot Sunday into the deep left rough on No. 2, Barnes got off to a solid start Monday morning, slashing out of the hay and getting up and down for par from in front of the green.

“I think it settled me down, but we waited about 20 minutes on the next hole,” Barnes said. “Two groups still had to tee off.”

He parred No. 3, then missed a scoring opportunity on the 517-yard, par-5 fourth when his second shot went over the green and settled into a bad lie.

“I don’t think too many people hit two shots over the green on 4,” Barnes said. “So that might have been a little unlucky.

“And then I didn’t settle down. I hit the fairway on 5. Caught a mud ball in the hay and got on that train for about four or five holes.”

What was he thinking?

“You don’t want to know,” he said, smiling.

The 6-foot-2 slugger watched his drives soar well left on many holes, leaving him shaking his head and trying to figure out how to play out of knee-high grass.

He rebounded to salvage the second-place tie, and had an outside chance to force a playoff — or, at least, put some pressure on Glover — with a birdie on 18.

“The putt almost defied gravity on the last hole,” said Barnes, who would have earned an extra $250,170 for a solo second-place finish if the putt had fallen.

“If you’re playing for the money, don’t play.”

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