Ricky Barnes, Jason Day, Big-Game Hunters
By Stephanie Wei under British Open

Barnes before his back-nine meltdown

Interesting article in the Wall Street Journal on Ricky Barnes’ performance in majors. Barnes, who officially found out he was in the field two hours before his tee time, averages better finishes on the grand stage:

Since 2009, Barnes has played in six majors, finishing on average about 35th. In his 40 other events, he has averaged a 42nd-place finish. That difference ranks third among all golfers who have participated in at least four majors and 20 non-majors during that span. Jason Day, who shot a one-over 71 Thursday, ranks ahead of Barnes with an average place of 18.5 in majors compared to 26.3 in other tournaments.

For both players, it appears facing elite competition brings out their best. Day finished second in both the Masters and U.S. Open this year, but his resume also includes missed cuts at the Northern Trust and Shell Houston opens. In 2009, Barnes placed second at the U.S. Open, but didn’t finish better than 66th the rest of the year.

Day has played in four majors (not counting this week), and he’s finished in the top-ten in the last three, including runner-up in the last two. I tipped him for the Open this week, but that was before I found out he decided in the final round of the John Deere Classic on Sunday that he wanted to see if he could play in less than two hours. Day was first off as a single. Then he took the charter on Sunday night and got in Monday morning, jetlagged and tired. He only played one practice round on Tuesday. And just chilled out on Wednesday. Jason and his wife Ellie also have an overzealous fan who has been going through all sorts of trouble to contact them (including emails to me) — it’s really, really strange — and he’s in Sandwich this week.

I’m just messing that all these circumstances have had an impact on Day’s play Jason is doing just fine. I was joking around with his wife yesterday that I may not have picked him had I known all this info beforehand. Jason is tough and nothing really fazes him. He’s been fed very well, too!

Anyway, back to Barnes. I wrote a post about his last-minute arrival over at Golf.com. It sure was a delight to request to interview him after he shot 41 on the back nine!

Ricky Barnes had just been swimming in the Pacific Ocean, in Aptos, Calif., when he received the call on Monday night that he was first alternate for the Open Championship at Royal St. George’s.

Barnes had already decided to make the 7,000-mile journey from California to England if he was first alternate. It’s a long way to travel for an outside shot for a spot, but it was a no-brainer for Barnes.

He jumped on a plane and arrived at the golf course mid-day on Wednesday, in time to play a practice round.

“I played here in ’03 and felt like I was playing good, and I was playing good,” said Barnes. “One bad shot today and here I am.”

Barnes is two-over at the midway point. Hey, at least he still made the cut, right?