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March 30, 2004

Ricky Barnes


TODD BUDNICK: Welcome, Ricky Barnes. Thank you for joining us today. Your on your fifth sponsor exemption this year. Of course, you have seven this year to try and earn the amount that the No. 150 player last year Mike Grob did. He earned $348,976, and you still have $263,456 to go.

You played well, though. You started off with a T14 at the FBR Open. Let's talk about where you are in your progress. Do you think you're on your way?

RICKY BARNES: Yeah, definitely, like you said, got off to a really good start. That's kind of what I was looking for, to do something kind of spectacular and unexpected.

But been working really hard on my game lately. Fine tuning a lot of things since the end of last year. Now things are starting to come around. I'm seeing a lot of results in my game.

TODD BUDNICK: You're a long hitter. This is kind of a long hitters' course. Hank Keeney made his move on his way to earning his card. Have you seen the course yet? What are your thoughts?

RICKY BARNES: Yeah, I do like this course. I think it's very suitable to my game, like you said. I think last year a lot of the long-ball hitters played pretty well here. Even Ben came back and just made the number on the cut, goes and shoots 64, 63 or something.

I think that's the kind of course -- this is the kind of course you can do that on, and I like it. You have to be a long hitter to hit about two out of the four par-5s, or three of the par 5s. I think everyone can reach one of them.

I do like my chances. If you are driving well, you can get up into the pitching wedge and 9-iron range.


Q. What have you been doing for the last couple weeks?

RICKY BARNES: I've been really working on my swing a lot, a lot on my ball flight, trying to eliminate the left side of the golf course. I've been working on rounding out my swing. I didn't have a big shoulder turn. I was able to get a lot of length out of pure strength, athletic ability. Now we're kind of not working as hard, but still hitting the ball the same distances.

Q. Getting more of a turn, do you kind of figure that's the type of swing that can last you longer into your career rather than one that's just built on power?

RICKY BARNES: Yeah. I mean, it was a thing where I used to have to time the ball exceptionally well to do well. If my timing was on, great, everything worked. I think now this will eliminate my -- my misses will be a lot better and a lot less, you know, off line.

Like you said, it will be easier, a lot simpler, you know, under pressure, in critical situations.

Q. Did you think you were going to move right on to the PGA TOUR this first full year as a rookie?

RICKY BARNES: Yeah. Well, I mean, I expect a lot from myself. I expected to get right through Q School, be out here, kind of make my mark right away. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

Now we're going the tough route by sponsors exemptions, trying to make it that way. You know, just made the hill a little bit taller and steeper. Nothing that one good week or two good weeks in a row, like Hank did last year here, can solve.

Q. Who do you work with?

RICKY BARNES: I work with Peter Costas out of Scottsdale.

Q. Do you start feeling the pressure now that it's your fifth event this year, going into the FBR, which I think that was your best event, and now you make the cut in two events, missed the last two, you've only got two more exemptions left to earn a decent amount of money, $260,000, do you start to feel more pressure than you did at the beginning?

RICKY BARNES: No. I probably felt more pressure at the beginning because I hadn't made a cut yet in my PGA TOUR exemptions. It was just an ongoing process. Finally once I made a cut, it just kind of rolled on.

I think at the beginning, you know, you want to get off to any start. If you don't make a cut or make any money at the beginning, I think it's almost otherwise. Rather than looking at the end of the year, then you're just thinking, "God, you know, I'm not going to do anything." Now at least I know I have some money banked that if I did have one good week at the end of the year, made a $200,000 something, I have something to add to it.

Now I think it's just a matter of going out, playing well, making the most out of these last three, get in the Top 10, instead of three exemptions, maybe four, five. I think that's probably the way I'll have to do it with the exception of one big week.

Q. What has held you back so far? Great amateur record. Obviously you're a good enough player. You believe you can play out here. What's held you back?

RICKY BARNES: Just getting on a roll. Like I said, sponsors exemptions are a tough thing because I think Hank did a couple weeks in a row, I don't know how he did it, but a couple guys -- I did the FBR when I was playing really well, and I went over to Australia, played really well over there. I was in the midst of really good play for three or four weeks.

After coming back from Australia, I had two weeks off, then you go back on again. Let's say if I would have Top 10'ed, go over to AT&T, who knows what would have happened there. Maybe another good finish there.

But, unfortunately, I had to go over to Australia. I came back, had a couple weeks off, played really well in Tucson, just didn't have a really good Saturday. Just one of those things that if you can get a good week that you're playing well, a good two or three weeks, the sponsors exemptions aren't going to match up two or three weeks in a row.

Q. Your amateur career is obviously heralded. Last year at The Masters is kind of where you had a coming out party. What is your impressions of that?

RICKY BARNES: You know, it was great. You win the amateur. Do what difficult in The Masters last year was great, under even more pressure, you know, on a bigger level, bigger stage. My first two rounds, playing with Tiger.

You know, maybe that's a little karma or something coming around. I'm only within a couple hours of there. It's good to be back in Georgia. Like I said, this course is somewhat suitable to The Masters. A little fast, bent greens, kind of an undulating course, a lot of uphill, downhill shots.

You know, I think that's just a good experience for me. I can take it over to what I am in the Honda, playing well. I have been here before kind of thing.

Q. You played well the first two rounds at Augusta. A first-year player usually can't keep it going. What happened third and fourth round?

RICKY BARNES: To tell you the truth, I played great all week on the Front 9. I wouldn't say it was nerves. It was just mainly ball striking, making birdies. I think throughout the week, I shot I want to say roughly 5-under on the Front 9 at Augusta. Even Saturday and Sunday, I played the Front 9 1-under, then just didn't have a good Back 9. I hit a lot of good golf shots on the Front 9 and didn't carry over to the Back 9. You need to hit really good golf shots on that Back 9 to score well.

I wouldn't say it was necessarily the nerves, because usually those will probably kick in early in the round. Like I said, golf shots. Making a lot of changes with my swing now, I think it's going to be easier to tame the bad shots, actually figure out what I am doing when I am missing shots.

Q. There's been a few tournament directors who haven't been shy about saying, "Ricky Barnes is a sponsor exemption, brings the girls out to the tournament, good-looking guy." Does that bother you at all as being a poster boy of sorts?

RICKY BARNES: I don't think it's a bad thing. You know, I mean, if they were to put you in the spotlight of whatever it is, relative to other sports. You know, it's a thing where I want to make the mark the other ways. "We got Ricky Barnes, up-and-coming player, as opposed to Adam Scott." You want to be one of the young guns, but also to earn your way out there.

I don't want to live on sponsors exemptions for the next year or two. I want to get out here, have my card, knowing I'm in the tournament, if I want to play six weeks in a row, as opposed to this tournament gave me one, this tournament gave me one, maybe three weeks later I'll get another one.

Q. You don't mind playing that role a little bit?

RICKY BARNES: No, not at all. If I'm going to get them, I'm going to use them. It's a good thing.

Q. What is your normal ball flight?

RICKY BARNES: It's pretty straight. I used to love to draw the ball, kind of working around that because the draw led into a lot of pulls. Now we're trying to work it both ways and almost lead into a little fade now.

Q. Do you know where you're going to play the other two exemptions?

RICKY BARNES: Right now I know I'm guaranteed -- I'm here and then I'm going to play in a Canadian tour event in my hometown, Stockton, then New Orleans.

Q. One after that?

RICKY BARNES: Yeah. The way it looks right now, might be Wachovia. I'm pretty sure it is. I think I'm going to do those in a row, Canadian, Wachovia.

Q. Is that the good thing about getting the Tour card, you can set your own schedule?

RICKY BARNES: No, I want to get out here and compete. I don't want to compete on a Canadian tour level and come up to here.

Q. If you made your money in the next two or three events, is the most important thing about making your money the fact that you set your own schedule on the Tour versus having to wait and see if you get into something?

RICKY BARNES: Oh, yeah, totally. Also it would take out things like if I got a Top 10 at Phoenix, would I have to go to Australia? It just eliminates all those. Like you said, it just makes things a lot easier. Before I step up to a calendar year, I know I'm going to play, know where I can play.

Q. Up until the early '80s, the pros out here had to pay for their range balls. Have you ever paid for a range ball?

RICKY BARNES: No. High school maybe. Maybe then. I don't know. I think we got them free in high school, too.

Q. How much does a large bucket cost?

RICKY BARNES: Gee, I'd have to say what kind of balls are they giving me.

Q. Is that surprising you would have had to pay for balls out here?

RICKY BARNES: Yeah. Nowadays, you know, fortunately we're almost given everything. I'm kind of spoiled back home whenever I practice. We'll practice with the Pro Vs. When you go to somewhere that you had to hit (inaudible) ball, you don't want to touch it with your driver because, probably into the fence.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you.


End of FastScripts.

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