Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Travelers Championship Continued -- Ricky Barnes

Ricky Barnes led the U.S. Open through three rounds before tying for second after a final round six-over par 76, but headed up to Connecticut for the Travelers Championship anyway. For those of us who have covered this tournament for a number of years, a rule of thumb is that the guys who finish first or should have finished first the week before are a guaranteed to withdraw from the Travelers, usually at about 10 p.m. Sunday night. Barnes, though, made the trip and so will U.S. Open winner Lucas Glover, whom Barnes was paired with in the third and fourth rounds.

During his time in the interview room Monday afternoon, Barnes was a bit surprised when he was asked if he thought about pulling out of the event.

"I just want to get out and play. If you're playing well, why not keep playing?" he said in part.

That night, while filling divots as a volunteer on superintendent Tom Degrandi's grounds crew (I worked for him part time in 2008), I had a chance to talk with Barnes again, this time on the seventh fairway. He's never been to TPC River Highlands and was walking the course with his caddy/brother and a wedge, hitting full shots into greens as well as chipping from the falloff areas that are prevalent on the Bobby Weed design.

"You know, the reason they asked you that question about withdrawing, was because most guys in your position, don't show up," I said.

"Really? I talked to Lucas Sunday night and said, 'are you going up' and he said, 'yes,' and I said I was too," Barnes replied.

"You know, the fans really appreciate you and Lucas coming up," I told him, which he was glad to hear.

We chatted or a bit longer and off he went to see River Highlands while I filled divots.

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