FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — The only things we've seen coming this week at Bethpage Black have been storm clouds, rain showers and weather delays. Ricky Barnes? No, we definitely did not see him coming.
Barnes, the 2002 U.S. Amateur champion, fired a 65 in his second round, which he started Friday afternoon and finished Saturday morning. That left him atop the U.S. Open leaderboard while the second half of the field — the one that includes Tiger Woods — went out to finish its second round in the afternoon with more bad weather poised to move in.
It was a record-setting performance. Barnes posted a two-round total of 132, eight under par. That broke the 36-hole Open record of 133, which Lucas Glover had tied a few minutes earlier. (Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh shot 133 in the first two rounds at Olympia Fields in 2003.)
So for now, Barnes is your unlikely U.S. Open leader. After knocking around the Nationwide tour for six years, Barnes finally punched his ticket to the PGA Tour this season. It hasn't been a breakthrough season, however. In 12 tour events, Barnes has missed the cut in six and hasn't finished better than 47th, which came last week in Memphis.
"If you would have told me I would have been eight under par and have only a one-shot lead, I would've said, You're kidding, but I'll take it," said Barnes, 28, a California native who played college golf at Arizona. "It was solid play. My ball-striking was the most impressive part of the first 36 holes. I hit 31 of 36 greens. It was pretty stress-free. Could I have predicted I would shoot 132? No. Did I know I had it in me? Yeah, I'm starting to play well."
Barnes has made nine birdies in two rounds and only one bogey. He has been working on his swing, which was a little unorthodox when he won the Amateur, with noted instructor Peter Kostis. He had a solid season on the Nationwide tour last year with nine top-10 finishes.
"The Nationwide has gotten me ready to play out here, and it's humbled me the past four or five years," he said. "After college, I thought I'd be out here right away. I was able to get a lot of exemptions but not much success. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't pissed off the first two or three years. I've grown up now. I have to be more patient, and I think it's showing here. It's been paying dividends."Leaderboard | Photos | Join SI GOLFNation