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June 3, 2011

Ricky Barnes


CHRIS REIMER: Ricky, thanks for coming in, stopping by. 6-under for the tournament right now, a couple key putts there to end the round to kind of sew things up for you at the end of the day. Just talk about the day as a whole, if you don't mind.
RICKY BARNES: Yeah, ended up better than I started. Just got off to a bad start, hit some good shots, missed the fairway on 3 and had to hack it out. Just got to hit that fairway on a pretty short hole. Made two early bogeys and then started to play the par-5s well on the way in, and that's pretty much -- got me back into contention, back in the golf round, period.
CHRIS REIMER: Some good memories, you talked about outside. Looking back to last year I would imagine you take some positives away from how you played last year.
RICKY BARNES: Yeah, when you step on courses that you play well you feel good once you get on the ground. A lot of the same this week, driving the ball well, putting myself in good positions and my distance control is pretty good with my irons. I'm back to hitting it in the middle of the club face, and it definitely shows while I'm out there.

Q. You seem to be establishing a rep as a guy that does well on tougher courses. You've had a few looks at some majors along the way. Is that a fair assessment, versus 63-under track meets?
RICKY BARNES: That's fair. I've always liked a course that kind of par is your friend. You're making pars even on what some people call easy holes. You're not losing shots much to the field. Even out here, you chip away a lot of pars and grind the round out and steal a few birdies. And that's kind of what I did to get myself back into the round.
I got a few birdies to get myself back to even par. And yeah, you know, the sad thing is that I have played well in a few U.S. Opens, but I'll be grinding that 36-hole day come Monday.

Q. How much does going after that first victory kind of weigh on your mind?
RICKY BARNES: You know, it's too early to tell. I've put myself into good positions. Yeah, I'd love to get it. I was pretty good early on in the year keeping myself calm once I got into that position at Honda and Hilton Head. I was making some good swings, unlucky bounce on a few holes there.
But I'm feeling more mature on the golf course and a little more at ease once I get into that position.

Q. Did you hear when you were walking up 18 they make the announcements for all the players, they actually give you one?
RICKY BARNES: Yeah, they said that yesterday, too. They said, What event did you win? Maybe they're foreseeing something this week or something. I'm hoping. (Laughter.)

Q. You hit a great shot into 16 today. You played the hole well. What's your thoughts about the redesign, and how does that hole look from the tee?
RICKY BARNES: It's definitely different. You know, if that wind picks up from the east on that hole with the back tee to that pin, I mean, you're going to wear out that right bunker.
I thought the other hole was pretty good. You know, I don't think -- I think the way they made it now it's probably just a hair longer than it needs to be with the firmness of the green, and if you do get that east wind, you're going to see 5 and 4-irons to a front pin. I just think it's going to be really interesting to see where they put the tee when they do put the back left pin with the new firm green.

Q. What did you hit there today?
RICKY BARNES: I hit a 6-iron, and I think the other two guys in my group hit 5. So like I said, if you get the breeze coming up -- I mean, it's already a good hole, and we didn't have much breeze.

Q. I think it was Rory who said yesterday that he was looking forward to getting out there in the morning. He likes the afternoon-early tee time combination. Obviously he thought he was going to be able to go out and score well again today. What was the reason, I guess, that there aren't more guys making moves forward like you guys did yesterday? Was it tougher than expected for a morning condition?
RICKY BARNES: I thought there was good pins out there. There's enough good pins on each of the greens to kind of protect it. Even a few of the par-5s, you know, 5 and 7, they're those front pins. I mean, I hit two great shots into 5 and still had about 25, 30 feet behind it. I beg to differ that there's going to be many closer guys because I played in the morning, greens were soft.
And the ball wasn't traveling all that well this morning. There was a little chill in the air, and yesterday afternoon the ball was flying. We were hitting 3-woods, I'm going to say, up in the 280 range.

Q. There are a lot of parallels between yourself and Matt Kuchar, both being U.S. Amateur champions. Have you seen his career arc over the last couple years and seen that as something you think you can become?
RICKY BARNES: I'd like to think so. You know, Matt was out here one Honda early or something and then I actually played with him in Panama and somewhere else on the Nationwide Tour and then has come back really strong. I think you've got to put him in the mix of the top 5 hottest players in the last year, year and a half.
I'd like to get to that point in my career. Am I there yet? No, but like I said, keep putting myself into positions. I had a struggle early on in the year with an injury, but I'm coming back. I'm feeling confident, and like I said, it's kind of leading to a lot of off-course stuff, as well.

Q. How important is it for you to qualify on Monday, and how do you balance what you face over the weekend with the 36 holes that day?
RICKY BARNES: The preparation for Monday won't change anything for Saturday and Sunday. You know, I came here to play a golf tournament. I think the way you have to go into the 36-hole qualifier is that it's a bonus if you get through. You know, I'm not looking into -- obviously I'd like to go out there and win the qualifier and get there. I mean, that's first and foremost.
But, you know, I know a lot of good players, guys that are playing well this year, that aren't even going to tee it up on Monday. They think that there's a lot else ahead of them and that you just want to keep your body fresh.
I mean, I'm hoping I get through. I want to play in the U.S. Open. I want to play Congressional. I want to do it all. Would it be the end of the world if I didn't get through? No, I've missed -- I think I've only played five of the last ten, so it wouldn't be anything hugely unexpected.

Q. But you have played well in a couple of them.
RICKY BARNES: Oh, yeah. Like I said, I like my chances, but I've got to get there first.

Q. You just referenced some guys not playing. Does it surprise you when you hear that, that maybe would forego the opportunity to get into a major? I think Riley said yesterday he's not playing.
RICKY BARNES: Yeah, Chris isn't playing and a few other guys. Yes, because you get a free shot. You're not forking out money, you're not flying anywhere else, a lot of that stuff. But you know, some guys, if you have families and you've played three or four, five events in a row and you like playing a few events after -- I think it is shocking to me because if you live in the States and you're not going to qualify for the U.S. Open, in the big picture, you're playing for whatever it is, $7 million, $7.5 million, and the U.S. Open is the only event that week. Why some guys don't do the British Open I can actually see it because you have to play the week before over here and the week after and that is a lot of travel.
But you know what, it works for some guys, but I will be there.

Q. You mentioned five in a row. You said outside this is your fifth week in a row. Is that odd for you, and how do you cope at the end of a stretch like that?
RICKY BARNES: It wasn't on the Nationwide. You could go six to eight in a row and feel like you could go another six or eight in a row. But out here, yes. You know why guys take -- play two, take two off, play three, take one off, that kind of schedule.
But for me, I took, I think it was the first seven or eight events off early in the year, and I do like to play a lot in the middle. And now you do have to play quite a bit before the FedExCup. It's not like you're chasing the TOUR Championship in October. We're chasing the TOUR Championship in September now.
I wanted to get out and play. I didn't play that great in May, and I'm hoping to have a much, much better June.
CHRIS REIMER: The final three holes have been proven to be a pretty tough finishing stretch. You've played it in 2-under. What's been the secret of getting through those holes the first two days?
RICKY BARNES: You know, 16 you just got to put it anywhere on the green and hopefully you can two-putt and get out. It's slower than the rest, it's firmer than the rest, it's just a new hole. And like I said, it's playing all of 200 yards. Just put it on the green, get your 3 and get out. I was fortunate enough to steal one.
And then 17 and 18 you've got to put the ball in the fairway. You put it in the fairway, you're going to have a mid to short iron probably anywhere from an 8 to a 6-iron, and that's kind of a lot of the same. 17 you've got to put it kind of on the right level. That's kind of two levels, and I hit a great shot in there today and had to make a 15-footer for par. I was up against a collar, and if you guys have been out there the collars are about five inches tall.
And then 18, I mean, it's just -- 18, you know, the firmer the fairway gets, the tougher it is to hit because it slopes so much right to left. And if you get any wind out of the right, the ball rolls all the way to the left. You've just got to hit the fairway, hit the green, and like you said, they're tough holes, and if you can get through even par through those holes, you're going to be a lucky man.

Q. Where did you play growing up?
RICKY BARNES: Stockton Golf & Country Club and Elkhorn. Funny thing, I live about a fourth of a mile from Swenson.

Q. Big public course, yeah.
RICKY BARNES: Yeah. Van Buskirk might need some help, if you know what I mean.

Q. Not that it's a bad thing, but do you long for the day when they're not just saying you're the amateur champion anymore?
RICKY BARNES: Yeah, I think it will be nicer when he says I have a TOUR victory or multiple of them that it's true. And it's not the CVS Caremark Classic or something. But yeah, I want to get my first TOUR event and not just be the amateur champion.

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