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June 20, 2009

Ricky Barnes


Q. Setting a record, what does that mean to you, not only leading but ground no one has killed before?
RICKY BARNES: It's pretty cool. Obviously at the beginning of the week you didn't think that score was out there. Obviously with some tees moved up and the soft greens helped it out. And obviously with my ball-striking was the most probably impressive part of the first 36 holes. I just got -- 31 of 36 greens. Pretty stress-free. I think one bogey.
But also if you would have told me I would have been 8-under and only one shot lead, I would have said, "You're kidding me," but I'll take it. It was solid play. And I'm happy with in the position I'm at.

Q. The words "U.S. Open" and "stress-free" don't usually go together.
RICKY BARNES: You're telling me. But I've done well. I wanted to come out today. Obviously slept on a good play last night. Came out hit a great tee shot on 1 and settled any nerves that were going on this morning.
I just played a good solid nine. Missed one green on these last nine holes.

Q. Does it feel like a U.S. Open with all the starts and stops?
RICKY BARNES: Not really because you're finishing your second round on Saturday morning. So I mean it does once you're out there. You still have the rough and the greens and everything else that goes along with it.
With the stop and startage of play, it's been awkward.

Q. Did you see this coming at all, did you play at Memphis?
RICKY BARNES: Could I have predicted I would shoot 132? No. Did I know I had it in me? Yeah. I'm starting to play well. Working hard on my game on and off the golf course. And just I think it's proven that finally earned my PGA TOUR card this year and to be able to settle the nerves once I got kind of up near the lead and kind of improve on it, I think, says a lot about it.

Q. It's hard for you to get starts, your number, so to speak, has been down the list and you've been given a lot of at-bats?
RICKY BARNES: That's been the main thing. Can you foresee this happening? Well, it's tough to foresee something happening when you play two weeks and you ride the bench for two weeks because you're not getting any tournaments.
It's sad but true but guys in my category, it's just tough to get in. So I was saying earlier I was stoked to be able to play three events in a row. I think it's my first time that I was going to be able to play three events in a row.
I played well last week in Memphis. Couple of unlucky breaks, could have turned my tournament around, but I definitely felt I played well enough last week to be in the top 10 and I didn't get anything to show for it. I came here. I wanted to be aggressive and kind of prove myself.
And I took enough rest to be ready for an event like this.

Q. Speaking of the PGA TOUR, did you think a few years back that it was going to be as difficult of a struggle to try to get yourself, having a card and did you think it was going to be a little easier when you came out?
RICKY BARNES: Of course, yeah, three years ago I finished bridesmaid in the Nationwide Tour to get my card. And obviously last year I was kind of the guy that snuck in.
But I played well. I had nine top 10s last year. And it depends on what tournament you have in the Nationwide Tour. You can have five of them in a smaller purse and there's something to be said about the big purses out there that you need to play well.
But it's obviously gotten me real ready to play out here and it's humbled me the past four or five years.

Q. Are you from Bernardsville (New Jersey)?
RICKY BARNES: No, no, that was just where my management company is. I've always been from Northern California and I reside in Phoenix, Arizona now.

Q. Would you expand about being humbled; you came out and you had a lot of expectation and whatnot to stay at the Masters and whatnot. Could you expand on that, how it's gone and how it's changed a little bit?
RICKY BARNES: I've grown up. I obviously thought after my college career I'd be out here right away. I was able to get a lot of exemptions earlier with my play at the Masters and U.S. Open and Amateur. And not getting really success.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't really pissed off the first two or three years. And seeing other guys that you played with getting out there and playing well. The guys you know you competed against in every tournament and every step of the way and they're out there and you're struggling just to kind of get conditional status on the Nationwide Tour. And nothing that a few extra hours on the range and putting green and just aging, I guess.

Q. What did you have to do to your game?
RICKY BARNES: I have to be more patient. I think it's shown out here in the USGA event. I think your first couple of USGA events you get out here and you can press after one bogey. But in a USGA event one bogey is not going to kill you. And just I've switched teachers in the last two years because I just felt like I needed a change to get something going in the right direction.
It's been paying dividends.

Q. Is it hard when you come out of college and the people start calling you the next somebody, the next great player, the next Palmer, Nicholas, whatever?
RICKY BARNES: I think you get compared to College Player of the Year, I was able to get that award one time. The guy in basketball is going to get drafted in the top 10. He's going to get a three-year stint and settle down in the NBA. Probably come off the bench and he's going to earn his stripes that way.
But he's going to get guided. Here you get kind of thrown into the pack of wolves and go to Q school and you have to earn it. But I like it. The only guy I can blame is the guy in the mirror and that's why I love this sport.

Q. Did you find, when you talk about work, when you were looking at the mirror, not that maybe you weren't working as hard as you thought that you should and maybe that was an issue?
RICKY BARNES: College coach always told me spend as much time as you do on the golf course as you do in the gym. And I think you just gotta find a happy medium. I'm not going to be a guy that sits out there for three or four hours and bangs balls, but if I go out there for an hour or two and work on the right stuff I think that's been the main key. I know what I'm working on. I'm focused for that amount of time and I get out.

Q. Did you ever think of not going through qualifying this year? You said yesterday you had a Nationwide Tour event you could have played in that week?
RICKY BARNES: My PGA TOUR, so if you're not in the PGA TOUR event you're able to play in the Nationwide Tour event. But what it was if I played in the Nationwide Tour event I might not have been able to sneak back to, weather permitting, maybe get to my U.S. Open qualifying site. I said I'm going to go play these couple of courses get ready and be well rested it's 36 holes in one day. I did Columbus, I shot 9-under.

Q. Nationwide Tour, seems like a lot of people you have to really shoot a lot of birdies to make any money at all and the travel is different. How would you characterize the style?
RICKY BARNES: You get to play more. Out here, like I said, your first year out you get to play a few and take a back seat for a few, get some invitationals and smaller fields. Out there you've got to play four or five, six, seven events in a row. It's just a lot more playing. But it gets you ready.
It's very well set up and volunteers and ropes and obviously great players and the rollover effect from guys playing on the Nationwide Tour and having success on the PGA TOUR second to none.

Q. What was the hardest time for you? Was there a moment when you were thinking this might not work out for you?
RICKY BARNES: I think it was '06 when I was one shy of getting my card through the Nationwide Tour.

Q. You got bumped that year?
RICKY BARNES: Yeah, shot a round whoever it was chipped in 17 and 18 to pretty much bump me out. It was a tough one to swallow. Whoever won that tournament, Cañada. I played well. I thought I handled my business well. I think I shot 7-under on the last round and I thought I was going to be able to get in. You'd almost rather be two out than one out?

Q. Did anybody in the crowd say anything memorable, how have you been received out here and are they aware of what you've been doing?
RICKY BARNES: It's been a happy medium. They walk by look at the standard bearer and see the last name. It's been good. A few people remember that I was here in '02. I was here in '02 and it seemed like a few of us who were on the bad wave in '02 obviously got the good wave here this week. So they say what goes around comes around.

Q. Is your swing the same?
RICKY BARNES: I've tweaked a few things. I wouldn't say there's huge changes. But for myself, just being able to control my ball and handling that has been a huge, huge leap.

Q. What's the evolution of the painters cap, where did that come from?
RICKY BARNES: Something different. I think everybody wears the traditional hat and stuff. Kind of just a cool hat.

Q. Next year's Pebble Beach, any extra motivation, home field for you?
RICKY BARNES: I'd love to get back. I played there. That was my first Open. I think I was 19 years old. I'm in a good spot. Obviously love to get back there. Heck, why not go there as the U.S. Open champ.

Q. Where did you think you would be at this point in your career as opposed to where you are now?
RICKY BARNES: I just thought I'd be on the PGA TOUR a few more times. This is my fifth Open which would probably have suited me about right but I thought I'd just be more of a full-time exempt player on the PGA TOUR.

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