By DOM AMORE, email@example.com
June 27, 2010
— Ricky Barnes felt something wasn't quite right Thursday, and he didn't wait to correct it.
"I didn't hit the ball well at all on Thursday," Barnes said. "My caddie and I went straight to the range and kind of squared it away. … I went out, worked on it a little bit, squared myself up and I produced the last two rounds pretty well."
Barnes, who began the Travelers Championship with a 1-under-par 69, then improved to a 67 Friday, played as well as anybody Saturday. His 64 moved him into a seven-way tie for fourth (200), six shots off Justin Rose's pace. Barnes, Ben Curtis, Retief Goosen and J.J. Henry tied for the lowest round of the day.
"Just play and let it come," Barnes said.
Barnes, 29, from Stockton, Calif., came onto the tour with a lot of promise, but is still looking for his first PGA win. He took a lead into the final round of the U.S. Open at Bethpage last summer, but lost it with a Sunday 76 and finished in a tie for second — his only top 25 finish in 2009.
This year, he has been more consistent, making the cut in 14 of the 17 events, with five top-10 finishes and seven finishes in the top 25. He finished tied for third at Memorial three weeks ago.
"I've been real consistent this year," Barnes said. "Last year was the exact opposite. I put in a lot of hard work at the beginning of this year getting used to new grooves. I knew that was going to be tough. But I'm putting the ball in play, putting the ball in a position to make birdies and I'm taking advantage of them."
On Saturday, Barnes made six birdies, no bogeys. On the first hole, he chipped in from intermediate rough to within 51/2 feet of the cup, and holed the putt. He made similar 6-foot putts to birdie the third and ninth. After a 168-yard shot, Barnes sank a 14-foot birdie putt at the par-3 16th. Consistency? He shot 32 out, and 32 in.
"I had two really good saves [hitting out of green-side bunkers] on seven and eight," Barnes said. "I hit kind of a bad drive on seven, and didn't hit a good tee shot on eight. But from then on in, I don't think I missed one green. I played really solid golf, I'd say, on the last 10 holes. You can't ever really complain about 64."
It's a far cry, of course, from Pebble Beach, where Barnes shot 10 over last week at the U.S. Open, but that's part of the building process.
"We've got to adapt every week," he said. "From first and fast [at Pebble Beach] to medium and soft, I would call this."
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