Home > Uncategorized > How Do You Sleep Tonight, Ricky Barnes?

How Do You Sleep Tonight, Ricky Barnes?

Even though today was the summer solstice, the “longest” day of the year, darkness forced Ricky Barnes to go through another night with his name atop the leaderboard at the 109th U.S. Open.

After dropping a few shots in the third round earlier on Sunday, he still led by one stroke at 8-under-par heading into the final round this afternoon. But a bogey on the first hole and a dreadful tee shot at the second put him in a tie with Lucas Glover for the championship at 7-under.

Then, Barnes had to stop. And wait. And think.

In a pitifully obvious statement, there’s nothing Barnes could have done to continue playing today … but don’t you think he would want to?

I must be in the minority here, because I truly think he would. Each person responds to pressure differently, but if I was a 28-year-old who had never even finished in the top 10 of a PGA event, the last thing I would want is another 14 hours to think about what could be the biggest accomplishment of my professional life.

Everyone I talk to and read online is of the thinking that this break does him good. It gives him time to just reset himself, forget about that ugly start to the fourth round and get a good night of refreshing rest before coming out to play Monday morning.

But I don’t see how such a rest is achievable tonight for Barnes. The pressure. The possibilities. The Open. It’s all there for the taking. Come tomorrow, it’s hard to imagine that his legs won’t feel like banana pudding and that his nerves won’t be buzzing like a hornet’s nest before and after every shot.

Still, no one expected a recent Nationwide Tour player to be here. Not many would be shocked in amazement if he did let the moment get to him and suffered a meltdown the likes of Phil Mickelson or Colin Montgomerie in 2006 — who let it slip away on the final hole — or Gil Morgan in 1992 — who led by seven shots with 29 holes to play and then finished in a tie for 13th place.

I think more than the possibility of a collapse is the fact that we kind of expect it to happen anyway. It’s hard to imagine someone such as Barnes or Glover, who has only one PGA victory to his credit, to win the toughest test in golf.

I know I expect a dramatic fall from grace. I don’t know who is going to win, but I don’t think it’s going to be Barnes. It’s been a great week for him, but he has had a lot of luck this week, playing in some favorable conditions during a weekend that saw the course go through a name change: “Bathpage”.

But now the conditions will begin to hurt Barnes tonight. What must he be thinking? How does he put those thoughts out of his mind? If only for a few more hours of sun on Thursday, Barnes wouldn’t have to worry about this situation. He may already be celebrating if not for all of the delays. Instead, he has to go into Monday with the 17 most important holes of his life ahead of him.

It’s 11:04 p.m. right now, and somewhere in Farmingdale, N.Y., Ricky Barnes is just one round away from immortality. He knows it.

He also knows that it can slip away in the matter of a hook or a slice. And right now, there’s nothing he can do about it.

That has to be a helpless feeling.

If you want to follow along with a great live golf blog during tomorrow’s action, go here and check out the postings by Andy Vasquez and Co.

Sleep well.

Sleep well.

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  1. June 24, 2009 at 5:27 am

    FIrst of all, great prediction, not that it wasn’t really expected.

    As a whole, doesn’t Barnes look at his tied-for-second-place finish and be happy? I mean, finishing as one of the five players to break par at Bethpage is not bad.

    Or does he know that he had the title and that if did almost anything except shoot 5 over par on the front nine that he would have been fine?

    I am tempted to think that it should be the former, but I don’t know.

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