Ricky Barnes second-place tie great for sponsors


Even a second-place tie in a U.S. Open can do a lot for a golfer’s career – and especially for his endorsement partners.
Ricky Barnes, who shared second at Bethpage with better-known names Phil Mickelson and David Duval, obviously didn’t win. But his television exposure over the four – no, wait; FIVE – days of the championship was a big win for the companies whose products he endorses. Verve, the energy drink, had a logo on Ricky’s shirt, puffed out by his fitness-crazy chest. Between that and a logo on his hat with a web address for a Ricky-centered Verve-and-fitness site, the Verve people figure the value of Ricky’s U.S. Open exposure at about $3 million.
Verve comes in a can, but it’s Wilson Golf that has shown a talent for catching lightning in a bottle the past couple years. They have Barnes, but recall Wilson also counts Padraig Harrington, a three-time major winner since summer 2007, among its staffers. Harrington missed the cut at Bethpage, but Barnes picked up a lot of slack, showing the Wilson bag on TV many times. The result: People can’t get enough of that painter cap (or engineer cap, if you prefer) the Rickster was wearing. The fashion craze, which might not have happened had Barnes not worn the lid while shooting a solid first-round 67 and then felt compelled by superstition to stick with it, has Wilson air-freighting in more caps to meet the demand.
Meanwhile, Wilson hopes the frenzy spills over into the hard goods sales bucket. Barnes was playing new FG Forged irons (3-PW), Wilson’s first true deep-cavity back forged model. It’s due in stores in November. He also had a Wilson TW9 54-degree wedge.