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June 26, 2014

Ricky Barnes


Q. Thoughts on the day?
RICKY BARNES: Yeah, came out, played good golf from the get-go. Hit it close on 1. Went on a good run, I birdied three holes in a row on the front nine and had another good look on 9. Turned at four and kept up the solid play. The back nine, only missed one fairway on the back nine. So I was playing from the fairway, I was playing from under the hole, which means that you're being able to be a little bit more aggressive with your putts. Earlier, it was kind of sad, I hit a bomb drive on 16 and my only bogey of the day was a 3-iron into a par 5. Just kind of made a miss.

Q. You play well in tough courses in the U.S. Open, and this is a major course. Do you like the challenge of a tough course?
RICKY BARNES: I do. I figure if you can grind out some pars like I did today, when I did hit it in the rough, I'm not really losing any shots. It's definitely not a becoming a putting contest. Premium is on the fairways. I'm not afraid to pull rescues and 3-woods off the tees to make sure I'm in the fairway and give myself a longer iron in.

Q. The shots on 7 and 8, especially 7, you left it a foot; what did you gain from those holes, that turn there?
RICKY BARNES: It was good. 7, hit it close. 8, made a great putt just past the pin. Like I said, this course doesn't give you much, so when you do have the opportunities to take advantage of them like I did today, it feels nice.

Q. You've had some pretty decent finishes here the last couple times you've played. When you were playing the last couple days, does some of that come back to you?
RICKY BARNES: I feel comfortable with what clubs I'm hitting off the tees. That's the most important like I said. You have to be off the fairway here on a U.S. Open-style golf course. So when you do step up on the tee -- my caddie and I don't really disagree or talk too much about what clubs we are hitting. We are pretty much in agreement on a lot of the holes, what we are hitting off the tee. Like I said, just to get it in the fairway. Might be able to hit driver or 3-wood on the hole but if it bottlenecks and I don't like the look of it, just get me in the fairway, even if it might be a 6-iron instead of a 9-iron or 8-iron.

Q. Did you play this well in your practice rounds here?
RICKY BARNES: Just played Tuesday. This is the second of four in a row for me, so keeping the body healthy. Like I said, just hitting good shots and swinging like I have the last month or so, and I had a good result today.

Q. Even though it's Thursday, do you think back to the end of last year and maybe take more comfort and soul ace in that, knowing that last year you struggled and this year, things have been going okay so far?
RICKY BARNES: This year, it's trending. I don't look back on last year but I like where I'm going lately. The game has been trending in the right direction. Been working hard. My caddie and I have been grinding, short game is coming around and that's kind of where I'm seeing a lot of the results. Helps when you save par instead of make bogeys and go on to the next.

Q. Talk about your round.
RICKY BARNES: I was fortunate that I got out early. The greens were soft. The overnight rain definitely helped the greens but I played from the fairway. If you're playing from the fairway with a little bit softer greens than what they had been the last couple days, you know, you can get a few of the holes, and I kept the ball under the hole a lot. I was able to make five birdies out there, because this course doesn't give you much, and I was able to take advantage, like I said, when I did hit good shots into the green.

Q. Is that the key to the short game, as well, the putting and getting up-and-down around the green?
RICKY BARNES: If I did hit in the rough, I was just off the fairway and I was able to muscle up 7-irons or 8-irons around the green. That kind of helps. It's tough to play out of the rough on this golf course, and especially when the greens get firmer, being in the fairway is imperative. I'm still out here and I haven't had the bet finishes. Haven't finished a lot in the Top-10, only one this year. But it's good to get back on a tough golf course, good field and shot a good score.

Q. And you have played well on tough courses. That's been your history; you kind of like the challenge, I guess.
RICKY BARNES: I do like it when you have to grind out pars and you're either keeping pace or picking up a shot. You know, long rough, tough greens, tough pins. So it was nice to get out early and take advantage of a little bit softer greens and shoot a good score.

Q. And what does it do for your confidence overall to see yourself at the top, or at least right now on the leaderboard?
RICKY BARNES: Seeing some of that hard work off, been grinding the last two or three months, and it's been trending in the right direction. You can tell people that but unless you can show them a golf score, they won't believe you.

Q. I know you're in a hurry to watch another sporting event, what's your thoughts on the game?
RICKY BARNES: Hopefully keep it low-scoring and sneak out a 1-0, 2-1 victory.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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