By Rex HoggardJune 20, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. OpenFARMINGDALE, N.Y. ' The accolades piled up like puddles in the middle of Bethpage Blacks 18th hole. The man child with the matinee-idol looks impressed the Tours aristocracy, and thats hard to do.
Ricky (Barnes) did all the right things, Tiger Woods said. He played beautifully.
Phil Mickelson, the sentimental favorite for all NYC despite his status on the leaderboard, gushed: Ricky Barnes is an incredible player. Hes been somewhat of an inspiration for me to get in the gym.
Ricky Barnes
Ricky Barnes shot 5-under 65 in the second round. (Getty Images)
The worlds Nos. 1 and 2 were not referring to the 2009 upgraded model of Barnes, however. That praise was offered more than six years ago for the brash 22-year-old with the disconnected swing and made-for-Madison-Avenue smile. But if Mickelson and Woods had paused a little longer between disjointed play Saturday at the 109th U.S. Open their collective take would have likely echoed the earlier assessment.
No, this is not the first time the towheaded Northern Californian has outplayed Woods at a major, but it may be his most impressive.
Barnes stormed out ' pardon the weather-whipped pun ' to opening rounds of 67-65 for a one-stroke halftime lead using, of all things, a measured approach to a mushy golf course and a steady putter. He was virtually unrecognizable from the 2003 Barnes who mugged for cameras and swung from the heels at Augusta National to post an opening 69 that was seven strokes better than his playing companion that day ' Woods.
With equal parts charisma and cocksureness and with more power than a ConEd transformer Barnes quickly became golfs version of the Jonas Brothers that summer of 03. He would play again with Woods at the 03 U.S. Open, where he would post an opening 71 to Woods 70. Not bad for a swashbuckling amateur on a stage that rewards patience over power.
Golf was easy and his spot among the rotating cast of challenges to Woods dominance a foregone conclusion. But golf is more fickle than an 8-10 split. He failed at Q-School, twice, was flummoxed on the Nationwide Tour in 2006 and seemed destined to become another cant-miss kid who crashed.
In the fading light of the 2007 season, he turned to Dean Reinmuth, the straight-shooting Southern Californian swing guru, who made it simple. If he wanted a Tour card he needed to improve his driving, his wedge play, his putting and his short game. Other than he was perfect.
Hes a talented athlete, Reinmuth said. But when you go from college to this arena there are a lot of little details that make up the success path.
Barnes cracked the grass ceiling last year on the Nationwide Tour, finishing 25th on the money list to finally earn a Tour card, and his progress this season, although slow, had given both student and teacher reason to be optimistic.
This Bethpage breakthrough, however, is something else altogether.
The kid that sports a painters cap crafted a pair of masterpieces through two soggy rounds ' spending more time on the Blacks fairways (19 of 28) than one of those guys with the squeegees and making just enough putts (59) to post a single bogey through two U.S. Open rounds.
I've grown up. I obviously thought after my college career I'd be out here right away, said Barnes, whose best finish this year on Tour is a tie for 47th at last weeks St. Jude Classic. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't really pissed off the first two or three years.
Barnes will start his third round early Sunday nine clear of Mickelson and 11 ahead of Woods, whose cards have been dotted with more color than a pair of John Daly pants.
Yesterday (his opening 74) hurt a lot, said Woods, who was even par through one hole when weather stopped Round 3. It put me so far behind the leaders.
Although he limped in to finish his second round, Woods is probably less concerned with the real-estate between himself and Barnes than he is the company keeping time between the two. Truth is hes still hitting the ball as well as he did at the Memorial he just hasnt converted on the Blacks riddled greens.
If everybody played in the conditions he played in hed be close to winning, said Padraig Harrington, who played along with Woods for the first two soggy rounds. Hes in better form now than when he won Bay Hill.
Woods has never come from behind to win a major. Neither has Barnes. So what? If Lou Graham (11 strokes back after 36 holes in 1975) is the model of the Open rally cap, its likely one milestone in which Woods has little interest.
After Barnes, the two most compelling storylines this week have been weather report and the scoring, which has produced not one but two record lows with Barnes (lowest 36-hole opening score, 132) and first stand in Lucas Glover (second lowest 36-hole opening, 133).
Good news: USGA set-up man Mike Davis name is now associated with two records in a 109-year-old tournament. Bad news: he works for an organization that hates records.
Simply put, the Bob Hope Classic portion of the U.S. Open is likely over and Davis & Co. will start introducing whats left of the field to the back tees.
Almost just as certain is Barnes staying power. This is not the 03 edition with the loose swing and loud exterior. The remake is mild by comparison and made for Bethpage .
Going into the final round of last weeks St. Jude Classic, Barnes was tied for 54th and sent a frustrated text message to Reinmuth: Have to go low (on Sunday). Wrong answer.
Reinmuth fired back another thought: Youll take 14 pars and no bogeys.
The swing coach may want to resend that missive to the reformed wild-child for Sundays marathon ' from 14 pars and no bogeys come major championships.
Related Links:
  • Full U.S. Open Scores
  • Full Coverage - The 109th U.S. Open
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    Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x