- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 23, 2009

From combined dispatches

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. | Ricky Barnes needed only a few words to perfectly summarize his week - make that week and one day - at the U.S. Open.

“Let’s just stick to minus-2 for the championship,” Barnes quipped after a USGA volunteer noted that Barnes shot a 6-over 76 in the final round to finish at 2 under.

The 2002 U.S. Amateur champion tied for second - two strokes behind playing partner Lucas Glover - after breaking the 36-hole Open scoring record and taking a six-stroke lead at 11 under during the third round.

“Was I stoked with what I shot today? No. But was I happy with the last six holes? Yes,” said Barnes, who birdied the par-5 13th and closed with five pars at water-logged Bethpage Black.

He also earned $559,830 and spots in the British Open and 2010 Masters and U.S. Open - huge perks for a player who spent the last four full seasons on the Nationwide Tour and made only six cuts and $68,667 in 12 events on the PGA Tour this year. He went into the Open No. 519 in the world and left at No. 153.

A shot too good

No golf tournament ends without a number of players able to say “What if?” over one hole or one swing.

Hunter Mahan may have the best reason to ask that question after the U.S. Open.

Mahan’s ball was sitting in the fairway after his tee shot on the par-4 16th at Bethpage Black. He was 2 under par for tournament, just one stroke out of the lead.

But a great swing produced a terrible result and effectively ended his chance at his first major championship.

“We had a good number. I think it was like 172,” Mahan said. “Had an 8-iron downwind and just flushed it.”

If Mahan’s ball had hit any part of the green, he would have been looking at a makable birdie putt, but the ball hit the flag stick - and hit it squarely.

“I hit that thing pretty hard, and it ricocheted off the green,” he said. “That happens. It’s a U.S. Open. You’re going to get stuff like that. The green is just fast. I thought I hit a pretty good 5-wood runner up there, but the green was pretty fast.”

Tiger troubles

He didn’t need to hear any more.

“Do you beat yourself up over this one,” the question began, “or…”

“Yes,” Tiger Woods said abruptly.

This once, at least, the best player in the world wasn’t interested in alibis, never mind that a very tidy one was available. Woods got stuck in the bad half of the draw weatherwise from the start of play Thursday and beat every other player in the super-soaked flight at this U.S. Open. That was only good enough to tie for sixth place.

The sun was trying to peek through the clouds on a breezy, overcast morning at Bethpage Black, but Woods wasn’t interested in that either. For five days, he had seen little besides rain and gray skies. Now he was seeing nothing but red. He finished at even-par 280.

“I hit so many putts that - my good ones are not going in, and then my bad ones aren’t even close. It’s a little bit slow and bumpy, but you have to be committed to hitting it that hard, and I left a lot of putts short. And then, when I tried to hit it harder, I gunned it past the hole.”

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