SANDWICH, England -- 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.
On Thursday, with half the field already on the golf course, it seemed like Barnes would miss out. Then he heard about Nicolas Colsaerts, who injured his elbow in a motor scooter crash in Sandwich on Monday and withdrew at noon on Thursday.
"It's unfortunate that Nicholas fell off a moped, but I was fortunate to fill the void," Barnes said.
Barnes had about two hours to prepare and warm-up before his tee time.
He took advantage of the opportunity early on, which should come as no surprise considering his habit of showing up on major championship leaderboards in the past two years. He fired a two-under 68 in the first round, and at one point on Friday he was four under for the championship.
The came a triple bogey at the par-5 14th, where he hit his second shot out of bounds, and four back-nine bogeys. He shot 33-41 for a four-over 74, dropping him to two over for the tournament.
"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." (Photo: Robert Beck/SI)