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August 25, 2002

Ricky Barnes


CRAIG SMITH: Deep breath and here we go.


CRAIG SMITH: Okay. You said at the beginning of the week, if you didn't make any bogeys on this golf course you might do pretty. Well, you went pretty far today without making one and it made quite a difference.

RICKY BARNES: Yeah, I definitely did. I went, I think, I'm looking at 21 holes without a bogey. Something like that. 20 holes without a bogey today. If you would have told me that at the start of the day, I would have said you're crazy. But it worked out for the best. I made two bogeys in 34 holes. I couldn't ask to play better, and to stick with my game today. I had ups-and-downs out there. I had streaks of hitting the ball really well. I hit a couple bad shots. But I think my short game definitely won this tournament for me this week. My up-and-downs were unbelievable. On 15, this morning I got up-and-down to halve the hole to steal the hole from Hunter a little bit. And I went on to win 16, 17 and 18 this morning.

CRAIG SMITH: You had it up to four up at that point. Did you feel comfortable or with -- when did you feel pretty comfortable?

RICKY BARNES: The most comfortable I felt was after 13 today. Hunter made a huge eagle putt on 12 to cut it. He had a big up-and-down on 11. He had a huge putt on 12 to kind of get some momentum. He had the fist pumps going. And I think that kind of -- topping him on 13, he missed his birdie putt and I just put it right in there. Got the three-up lead and I think that was -- I had a lot of confidence to get back on my game.

Q. What's the emotion that you're feeling now after winning Amateur golf's most important event?

RICKY BARNES: I'm on top of the world right now, in my book. I've won a couple tournaments in my life, but the way I feel right now is unbelievable. I was able to talk to my parents and there's no better feeling right now than -- they're proud of me and I also can't believe it at the same time. But my emotions are so high, I can't even explain them.

Q. How long do you think it will be before it sets in, what you actually accomplished?

RICKY BARNES: When I go to bed tonight. I doubt I'll be able to go for awhile. I'm sure we will stay up and have some fun tonight. But yeah, I think on my plane ride home it will probably sink in. I would like to sleep on the plane, and I won't be able to sleep.

Q. Hunter said that he was not surprised at how far you hit the ball. He knew that he was surprised, he said on how straight you hit it, how consistently you hit it in this match. Was that above average for you or have you been hitting it that consistently straight all year? For how long?

RICKY BARNES: Yeah, I've been hitting the ball really well lately. But Hunter played with me in the stroke play event and I hit the ball exceptionally well there. I probably played my best golf not of the week, but in a long time in the stroke play. And he was able to see that. And I think a lot of it showed today. I had definite signs of hitting it straight, like you said. But at the same time I bet you a few up-and-downs might have surprised him a little bit. Because I sometimes -- I even surprise myself out there.

Q. The sand shot yesterday at 13, and the big birdie today on 13, do you wish you could take the 13th hole home with you?

RICKY BARNES: Yeah. I've asked for a few pins out there. I want to remember a lot of these holes. But this whole course was great for me. I didn't have one hole that killed me out there. And I wouldn't say one hole in particular did it for me. I think I was steady throughout my whole play. And I think that by being that steady this whole week did it for me.

Q. What did you hit on 13 this afternoon?

RICKY BARNES: I hit a 7-iron.

Q. How long was that putt?

RICKY BARNES: I think about 8 feet, I would say.

CRAIG SMITH: Let's just go through your winning holes for us. Club and putt.

RICKY BARNES: Okay. I won four. That was with a Hunter bogey. But I -- do you want this after?

CRAIG SMITH: How about 16, 17 and 18?

RICKY BARNES: Okay, like I said, earlier, 15's up-and-down, I was plugged in the bunker. Hit a bad shot out of the fairway.

And then on 16, I hit a 9-iron in. Great shot there. Huge momentum booster. I think I put a little pressure on him out of the rough before.

And then I stepped up to 17 and hit a great 6-iron there. That was just a stock 6-iron right out of the bag. I knocked it to about, I don't know, three feet. Yeah. I thought he was going to give it to me. I was looking at him for a long time.

And then I won 18 with a very good drive and an 8-iron. It wasn't the best second shot. And he kind of gave me that one, again with a bogey.

Then I birdied two. I hit driver, and then a 5-iron this afternoon out of the rough. And my short game came through there. Got a great up-and-down there.

Q. People said this is one of the toughest tournaments to win. Just how tough was it this week, going through a grueling 7 days of playing?

RICKY BARNES: I would definitely agree with that. A lot of the tournaments that we all play in as amateurs are all three- day tournaments. And we play a couple four-day tournaments. But they're all stroke play. And match play's a totally different game. A lot of back-and-forth. A lot of stuff going on in your head. And coming here Saturday, last Saturday, this is what we came here to do. And right now I can't believe that I did it . But I've been in this state for probably 20 days this summer. I'm only, I'm almost thinking about declaring residence.

Q. What did you learn about yourself this week?

RICKY BARNES: Patience. I've never had too much patience with myself. I'm a guy that likes to do it and do it fast, and get it done fast. And today definitely showed a lot of my patience out there. I knew I had 36 holes. The first 18 just kind went by. I was very relaxed my first 18 holes. I just let the match come to me. And before I knew it, I was two up at the turn.

CRAIG SMITH: You never really led all week. No one got more than one hole up on you, which I think was a nice way to go. You never really had to be stressed out.

RICKY BARNES: Yeah. That was great. Every time, if I, I think, I took the lead at every match I had the first move in the right direction. And then I was -- the key to this whole week was I was able to get from one down to all square. I think the most it ever took me was two holes, and that's definitely a confidence booster. The longer you wait, the harder it gets. And I think it only took me at the most, maybe three holes this whole week to get back to square. And when you're square, you're not down and when you're one down, you're kind of trailing the other guy. You're looking at the back of his shirt.

Q. Regardless of what you've accomplished previously, people are going to expect big things out of you now just because you're the U.S. Amateur Champion. Is that something you'll enjoy or is it difficult to try to be yourself and ignore their expectations?

RICKY BARNES: I think I'll enjoy it. You want to win this tournament. I wouldn't lose this tournament to not expect that. That kind of stuff. I'm going to look forward to it. Hopefully people will cheer for me now, or not like they didn't before, but I'm looking forward to -- there will be a little added pressure on me. But you think that's a good thing, if I'm going to plan on pursuing golf as a career, which I want to do. So I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Is there a golfer that you've patterned yourself after or somebody that you have followed more closely than others because you like their style or whatnot, and their approach?

RICKY BARNES: I wouldn't say anybody in particular. I'm not a real mechanical guy out there. I'm sure you guys see a lot of that. But I'm a feel player. And that's just kind of my game. I go at my own pace. I don't go at anybody else's pace. I like to stick with what I got and kind of go with that. Fortunately, it worked this week. And I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing. And I think now winning this tournament will definitely make me work a lot harder at my game.

CRAIG SMITH: Was there a time when you were the little guy in the gym, a little heavier, a little -- not looking quite as athletic as you are now?

RICKY BARNES: Yeah. Freshman year of high school, I was a little chunkster. People asked why I lost the weight. I really don't know why. But it was just one of those times in your life that you are, I think, tired of being a little chunky. And I worked hard at it. Six months I went at it, in the gym. And I was fortunate. I lost about 65 pounds in six months. Then my sophomore year in high school, once I got my drivers license, I've been kind of thin ever since. And then I started to pack on the pounds with muscle and just trying to tighten things up with everything.

Q. Just curious, is this the toughest championship to win? If so why or if not, why not?

RICKY BARNES: You have two rounds of stroke play. And in other tournaments, let's say you didn't have too good of a first two rounds. Let's say the cut was 143 this week, and the medalist was 145. I think definitely guys have came back in a four-day tournament from 8 strokes down. And in this tournament, if you don't make the cut, you're out. There's only 64 guys that make it, and in a pro tournament there's about 70 and ties. So I mean -- and then you go into match play and, like I said, match play is kind of -- it plays tricks on your mind.

Q. The things you could control, the length, the strategy, the putting and everything else, that's all part of this. But how much was Andy a part of what happened this week?

RICKY BARNES: He was a huge part. Before I could pick out targets or I'm seeing targets in my head, he would say them out loud and I mean it was like we were -- we had two heads better than one they say that. Two heads are better than one and that's exactly what happened this week. We think so much alike out there it's scary. Targets and he's the guy like I said, he calms me down. I'm a pretty emotional guy out there. I get frustrated. I'm hard on myself. I don't think anybody likes losing and no one likes, no one hates losing more than me.

Q. What are the odds you'll be back to defend next year?

RICKY BARNES: A hundred percent. A hundred percent sure that I'll be back to defend this title.

Q. Is that your, that shirt, is that your normal kind of golf wear? I mean it's a little unusual from what we see?

RICKY BARNES: I told somebody earlier I put this shirt in my bag for one reason -- if I made the finals. It was scary. It was hanging in the closet the whole week. It was kind of by itself on the side. I made the finals, I played the first round in a different outfit and I said, you know what, I told myself if I was going to make the finals that I would wear it and I'm kind of a, not a flashy guy, but this is kind of my personality. I'm not a very shy guy. So I like to express myself and I guess my clothes did a little bit of it today, so.

Q. You've already been in the Open and the now you got The Master's. What about these exemptions you're going to get for this?

RICKY BARNES: Yeah, I'm looking forward to them. Definitely going to take them to my advantage. Augusta. I'm able to play there. And the second week of April I'm going to miss a week of school and what better place to miss school than to go to Augusta. And I'm in my third Open now. I guess they're going to start calling me a regular here pretty soon. But I'm just looking forward to them. I'm going to play with the big guys and work hard at my game and hopefully -- I haven't had too much success out there in the Opens, but now I think I've had two under my belt. I know what the USGA expects from me. And I'm just looking forward to it.

CRAIG SMITH: Got used to playing in front of a little crowd and now paired with Tiger in the Open and The Master's.

RICKY BARNES: Yeah, I definitely think those will be -- these crowds were good. But I don't think you guys will hold a torch to Tiger's crowds. But that's just an experience of a lifetime, I think. I'll try to have some fun with him. I like to talk with my players. I doubt he'll talk too much to me, but I'm looking forward to it. I mean it's a childhood dream growing up. I watched Tiger when I was 12, 13, 14 watching him win the Amateurs and play and he got to play with all the best at his time. And now he's the best and I'm kind of the up-comer as the Amateur. So I'm going to fill his shoes.

Q. Are you going to wear that shirt at Augusta?

RICKY BARNES: No I think I'll wear something a little more appropriate.

Q. Have you thought about the fact that the list of names that you joined by winning this. Not just Tiger but Jack Nicklaus, Arnold, Phil Mickelson, that you're on that list now and what that means?

RICKY BARNES: Pretty crazy. I haven't thought about it. When I was holding up the trophy I probably should have looked at a couple names. But I know who is on that trophy. It's the accomplishment that I've been looking for my whole life. Up until this point this is probably the biggest tournament that I can win as an amateur or it is the biggest tournament that I can win. And now I'm -- I mean no one can take this away from me now. That's all I have to say. They can do whatever they want, but they're not taking it away from me.

CRAIG SMITH: One more good one.

Q. Out of the matches that you played this week was there one where you felt like you kind of escaped and got through? Usually there's always one where, thank God you got through?

RICKY BARNES: I would say right off the bat. I won one up my first match. I didn't play my best golf. I think I shot, you think I shot even or one, maybe 1-over. And I think that any make many birdies that day. And I think there's the one match like you said you have to escape and I would say right off the bat I escaped a guy that didn't play that -- we both didn't play that well, but I got out of there one up and from then on I don't think too much, too many of those were an escape. Maybe Bill Haas, because he is such a great player. And he was the medalist. So I would say definitely the first match and then maybe Bill.

CRAIG SMITH: Thank you every one for being here.

End of FastScripts....

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