Notes Barnes finds comfort zone in majors


AUGUSTA, Ga. – Ricky Barnes only has one finish in the top 10 in regular PGA Tour events, that coming at Riviera this year when he finished well back in ninth place.

Put him in a major, and it’s a different story.

In his first major since he was a runner-up at the U.S. Open last summer, Barnes was solid again Friday with a 2-under 70 that left him in the group with Tiger Woods at 6-under 138.

“I think that my last major that I played in got me ready,” Barnes said.

Even though he tied for second at Bethpage Black, that wasn’t enough to make Barnes eligible for the British Open or the PGA Championship. It only got him into the Masters.

“I was looking forward to coming here and playing well,” Barnes said. “I put myself in a good spot after the first two rounds and hopefully I can make some more noise on the weekend.”

Barnes’ only other trip to the Masters was in 2003 when he was the U.S. Amateur champion. Paired with Woods, he outplayed the defending champion by finishing six shots ahead of Woods over the first two rounds before finishing in a tie for 21st.

“I was telling someone last night that I never really wanted to come back here unless I was playing as a pro,” Barnes said. “It’s one thing to get invited by a member or something, and I would never turn it down, but I always wanted to come back here and play as a pro. And I’m here, and I want to take it a step further and compete come Saturday and Sunday.”

TAKE YOUR PICK: Like any good Italian kid, Matteo Manassero grew up playing soccer.

He also played golf and when it came time to choose, golf won out.

“I started golf at 3 years old. It’s always been a passion,” said the 16-year-old, who became the youngest player to make the cut at the Masters on Friday. “I’m better at golf, so I kept golf.”

But he hasn’t lost his love for the beautiful game.

“I really like soccer, too,” Manassero said. “I really like to play it and watch it.”
Rory McIlroy will have to find something else to do this weekend. Maybe even longer than that.

After playing the weekend at all four major championships last year – and finishing in the top 10 at two of them – McIlroy missed the cut at the Masters Friday. His 77 in the second round left him at 7-over, four strokes off the cut line.

More troubling, though, is the back pain that’s been bothering him since February.

“The whole game is getting to me at the moment,” McIlroy said. “I think I just need to go home for a few weeks and try and sort my head out. I don’t know when I will play again at the moment. I just feel like taking a complete break to get my head right and the back cleared up fully.”

McIlroy is scheduled to play at Quail Hollow in three weeks, but said he might wait until the BMW PGA Championship, which is May 20-23 at Wentworth.

“The back is OK. I can still feel it, but if I rest it then it will be fine,” he said. “I just need to go home for a while and see what I need to do for the rest of the season to get better.”

McIlroy said he first felt the back pain during the Dubai Desert Classic, where he tied for sixth. Tests revealed nothing worse than strained ligaments, and the 20-year-old got treatment. But he’s broken 70 only twice in his last three starts, and missed the cut last week in Houston.

He made only two birdies at Augusta National, where he tied for 20th last year.

“I am just not myself at the moment, and this is the sort of golf course that makes your mistakes look even worse when you are slightly off,” McIlroy said.
Ian Poulter was on the practice range when he decided to change up the clubs in his bag. He took out a utility club and replaced it with a 3-iron because of the wind direction.

It all worked out fine – until he hit a tee shot on the par-5 13th in perfect position.

“That utility I was talking about? Would have been perfect,” Poulter said.

Given the sidehill lie, Poulter didn’t feel comfortable hitting the 3-iron. Instead, he tried to cut a 5-wood that went 45 feet long. He two-putted for a birdie, so it worked out for him in the end.
Ryan Moore is giving Ian Poulter some competition for “best dressed” at the Masters.

While Poulter likes to push the envelope with unusual color and pattern combinations, Moore is decidedly old-school. His outfits look like something out of the Bobby Jones and Sam Snead era, right down to the tucked-in ties.

“I love the classic golf look,” Moore said Friday. “I obviously have my own spin on it, but I love the Bobby Jones look. I wish it would come back.”

Moore, 27, was best known for shunning endorsements the first four years of his PGA Tour career. When he won at the Wyndham Championship last year, he almost looked like an amateur, with no sponsor logos on his bag or clothing. He signed earlier this year with Scratch Golf – the deal made him a part-owner – but he’s still dressing himself, putting together outfits from his personal closet

On Friday, Moore wore a navy cardigan with blue, green and white stripes, his peacock-blue tie tucked into his blue-and-white checked shirt and secured with a silver, antique car tie clip. On Thursday, he wore a blue tie and white button-down.
“It’s almost gone a little too sporty,” Moore said of the game’s current fashion trends. “I just love the classicness of (what he wears). I wish I could pull off a Sam Snead hat, but I’m not cool enough.”
Thongchai Jaidee withdrew because of an elbow injury. He was at 6 over for the tournament when he dropped out after 10 holes Friday. … Tim Clark and Vijay Singh were both playing with neon yellow balls. … Michael Campbell, the 2005 U.S. Open champion, failed to make the cut for his fifth straight year, the last for which he had an exemption.