Amateur Barnes able to avoid fade

He recovers from bogeys, is five shots behind leader

Notebook

The Masters

April 12, 2003|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

AUGUSTA, Ga. - The most impressive thing reigning U.S. Amateur champion Ricky Barnes did during the rain-delayed opening day of the 67th Masters wasn't the 3-under-par 69 he shot in the first round yesterday morning.

It happened in the afternoon, after Barnes had fallen back to even par with a bogey to start the second round on the par-4 10th hole and a double bogey on the par-4 14th. He then made a birdie on the par-5 15th.

"The most proud I was, was that I was able to bounce back from bogeys," said Barnes, who also did it twice in the first round. "On 15, I was able to hit one of my best drives on the day there. Which was a momentum booster."

The birdie boosted Barnes, a 20-year-old junior at the University of Arizona, up to fourth place, five strokes behind Mike Weir, with eight holes left in his second round.

Considering that Barnes played with the world's best player was pretty spectacular, too. Tiger Woods, who at one point was seven shots behind Barnes and is now three, was impressed with his young playing partner.

"Ricky's a good kid. He's a lot of fun," said Woods, who nine years ago shot an even-par 72 in his first Masters round as an amateur. "We had a good time out there. He was not only playing well, he was conducting himself the way he should."

Andy Barnes, a mini-tour player who caddied for his kid brother yesterday, said Woods' easygoing manner helped.

"I don't think he [Ricky] is really in awe of Tiger," said Andy Barnes, who played as a qualifier in this year's Tucson Open. "Tiger was really accommodating. He was very cordial. He's just a good guy."

Said Ricky Barnes, "Off the first tee, I hit a quick one left and he came up and said, `Relax, things are going to be OK. That was kind of reassuring to get after that first hook. I hit a great recovery shot and he said, `See?' "

Barnes doesn't mind mixing it up with the big boys. He got six stitches over his right eye playing basketball with Rick Anderson, a member of Arizona's Elite Eight basketball team.

Not that Barnes was going to be satisfied just playing in his first Masters. He would like to make the cut and maybe cause the same kind of stir than another amateur, Matt Kuchar, did here in 1998.

In fact, Andy Barnes said after the opening round that his baby brother might be "dumb enough to think he could win the tournament."

"I mean he's probably right," Ricky Barnes said. "I think if you come out here settling for a missed cut or something like that, you're out here for the wrong reasons."

Barnes wasn't the only amateur to play well. Hunter Mahan, who lost to Barnes in last year's U.S. Amateur, shot an opening-round 73 and was even-par through 12 holes in the afternoon.

No magic for Funk

Fred Funk, who qualified for his first Masters in three years by finishing tied for fourth at last year's PGA Championship, went home quietly last night after rounds of 79 and 76.

"I haven't been playing good," said Funk, the former Maryland coach whose best result this year was a tie for third at the Nissan Open in February. "A course like this is a little too much for me, especially when I'm playing bad."

No records

As bad as it seemed, yesterday's opening-round average of 76.20 was only the eighth-highest first round in tournament history.

There were 15 players who shot 80 or higher, six shy of the opening-round record.

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