Can Scottsdale\‘s Barnes go the distance?
By BILL HUFFMAN
Ricky Barnes STILL is sitting pretty even if most observers think the Scottsdale pro will self-destruct before he gets to the 72nd hole of the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black – maybe some time Monday, who knows!
That’s the thing about Barnes, no one knows for sure how hel’ll hold up because he is, basically, a player without a track record despite winning the 2002 U.S. Amateur. Considering his best finish on his spotty PGA Tour resume is a tie for 14th at the 2004 FBR Open (sponsor’s exemption), it seems unlikely that he would become the first player since Jerry Pate in 1976 to make the U.S. Open his first professional victory.
But if that should happen, it would be the biggest shocker in a U.S. Open since 1969, when Orville Moody edged Deane Beman, Al Geiberger and Bob Rosburg by a stroke at the Champions Club in Houston. That it’s the 40th anniversary of that “shocker’’ might work in some weird way for the former University of Arizona All-American.
All we know about Barnes, who is at 8 under par after a 70 in Round 3, is that he now owns the record for low 36-hole total at a U.S. Open (132) and the second-lowest 54-hole total (202). Of course that record/achievement received a big boost by the fact they were posted on par-70 courses, so they’re slightly tainted.
Lucas Glover is only a stroke back and seems like the more legitimate threat. Another 64 like Glover shot in the second round, and the big kid from Clemson wins. But like Barnes, he’s probably pretty spent and his best scores might be behind him.
Speaking of “out of nowwhere,’’ what is David Duval doing here, lurking five shots back at 3-under? Double D was supposed to be long gone by now, but after faltering and the beginning of both his second and third rounds he has bobbed back to the surface. If Duval is to prevail it would take an act of the golf gods. (Hey, that’s certainly OK with us!)
Also at 3-under is Ross Fisher who has plenty of game. But as we all know, no Euro since Tony Jacklin in 1970 at Hazeltine has been able to take a U.S. Open. What the Englishman has going for him is that he finished fourth at the most recent Match Play in Tucson, and might be sneaky good.
Mike Weir, Hunter Mahan and Phil Mickelson are at 2 under, and like everyone else in New York, we like Mickelson, who birdied four of the last six holes to get back within shouting distance. Barnes and Glover have to shoot over par on their last 18 holes and Lefty a 67, which is very do-able. (Unfortunately, Weir and Mickelson both have the southpaw jinx going against them as no left-hander has ever won the U.S. Open.)
Sean O’Hair, Bubba Watson, Todd Hamilton and former U.S. Open champ Retief Goosen are at 1 under and also still alive. Of that foursome, O’Hair and Goosen could get it done but don’t lay any money on Bubba or Hamilton.
Tiger Woods is nine shots back, which is better than the 14 he was at one point. He’ll need at least a record-tying 63 and Barnes and Glover to implode.
Paul Lawrie holds the record for comebacks in a major at 10 strokes thanks to Jean Van de Velde in the 1999 British Open. Arnold Palmer set the standard of seven shots in a U.S. Open when he came back to beat Jack Nicklaus in 1960 at Cherry Hills.
So Tiger needs a record round for a record comeback. And, well, it’s not going to happen the way he’s driving and putting the ball.
The prediction here: Barnes, Glover and Mickelson all end up at 5 under. The playoff on Monday afternoon/Tuesday morning caps a weird week at the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.