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Tracee Hamilton - Sports Columnist

For Open Runner-Up, No Time to Slow Down

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By Tracee Hamilton
Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ten days after Ricky Barnes finished in a tie for second place at the U.S. Open, his life has changed.

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Right?

Barnes, settling in on the driving range at Congressional Country Club, ponders for a moment.

"Well, I get recognized more often," he said, even as fans began to congregate along the fence behind him to watch his practice session.

Surely he's taken time to celebrate the best finish -- by far -- of his professional career?

"Not really," Barnes admits.

In the final round of last month's Open, Lucas Glover pulled ahead of Barnes -- in part because Barnes's scorecard read "bogey, bogey, bogey, bogey, par, par, bogey, bogey" on holes 5 through 12. He settled for a three-way tie for second place with Phil Mickelson and David Duval and instead of heading to Manhattan to start his 15 minutes on the fame clock with David Letterman, he went instead to Connecticut for the Travelers Championship.

There, he made the cut -- his eighth in 14 tournaments in his first season on the PGA Tour -- but finished tied for 59th.

He came straight here, played in Monday's AT&T National pro-am, did some light hitting Tuesday, and was looking forward to yesterday's pro-am with the enthusiasm of one who hasn't played in a lot of them. Not at this level, anyway. A day off? That'll have to wait.

"Once I finally got back out here to the tour, then you want to stick out here," Barnes said. "You have to work that much harder week in and week out to maintain out here. It's kind of a dog-eat-dog world out here and everyone's jockeying for position week in and week out, so you know you gotta make the most of each week and parlay when you're playing good to weeks after."

The 28-year-old can speak with authority on this subject. While still a student at the University of Arizona, he won the 2002 U.S. Amateur championship, beating tour player Hunter Mahan at Oakland Hills. He shared the 2003 Ben Hogan Award for top amateur in the country with Mahan, and he was low amateur that year at Augusta National, beating playing partner Tiger Woods in the first round by seven strokes.

And then? Qualifying school and the Nationwide Tour, on which he had nine top-10 finishes last season -- although no victories -- and was 25th on the money list. Four years on the minor league circuit might seem like a long time for a man with Barnes's résumé, but Rick LaRose, who has coached at Arizona for 31 years, says his former pupil's timing is just about right.


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