Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Barnes Takes Stars to School.For a While

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Barnes Takes Stars to School.For a While

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Woods, Times-Union sports columnist

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Ricky Barnes will be back sitting in a classroom at the University of Arizona by Tuesday. His mind will be elsewhere.

"I'm going to sit there and think, 'God, I was just at the Masters. What am I doing here?' " he said, standing in the fading sunlight near the 18th green.

Two hours earlier, a lot of people had been asking a similar question. What was Ricky Barnes doing here, in contention on Saturday at the Masters? Playing with Tiger Woods in the morning and Phil Mickelson in the afternoon? Outplaying both of them? Moving ahead of everyone other than Mike Weir?

At 5:20 p.m., second place belonged to a 22-year-old college student who spent one night last week writing a paper.

"It's on aging," he said.

He did some of that on the back nine yesterday, shooting a 40 and rapidly going from chasing first place -- and a $1,080,000 check that, as an amateur, he can't win -- to being 2-over par, tied for 18th, seven strokes behind leader Jeff Maggert.

It was the kind of day that, at least until a double-bogey on No. 12, let an age-old question dangle.

"Every year the question is, 'Can an amateur win this tournament?' " said Hunter Mahan, a 20-year-old from Oklahoma State who also is 2-over. "It's tough the first year . . . the surroundings are very different from what we're used to."

Each year, Augusta National invites at least five amateurs to play in the Masters. They are like small schools in the NCAA Tournament. Nice, feel-good stories that occasionally provide some early drama, then inevitably disappear.

No amateur has ever won the title. And no amateur has even finished in the top 10 since 1962, which is part of the reason the gallery following Woods, then Mickelson kept growing. People wanted to see the new kid. Another reason, one female reporter pointed out to Barnes afterward, was that the young women in the crowd seemed to like more than his golf game. …

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