Thursday’s best score at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans came from the day’s first group.
Ricky Barnes opened the week’s festivities with an 8-under 64 to take the early advantage and no one was able to catch, let alone overtake, the early leader by the conclusion of first-round play.
Boo Weekley came close, carding three birdies on his last five holes to open with a bogey-free 65. He was matched late in the afternoon by Lucas Glover, who had six birdies on the front nine (his second nine) en route to a 65 of his own. D.A. Points and rookie Morgan Hoffmann were another shot back after matching 66s.
Another 10 golfers checked in at 5 under including Ernie Els, Rickie Fowler and 2006 PLAYERS champion Stephen Ames, who needs a win this week to qualify for the 2013 event at TPC Sawgrass.
A total of 84 players completed the first round in red numbers. Not among them was 14-year-old amateur Guan Tianlang, whose three birdies were offset by three bogeys in an opening-round 72.
Ricky Barnes is in the running for his first PGA TOUR win.
Ricky Barnes reflects on his play in the 2012 John Deere Classic with Fred Albers from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.
Ricky Barnes, who was in the second group off the first tee, grabbed sole possession of the John Deere Classic lead with a 64, which also happens to be his low round of the season.
The former U.S. Amateur champion made eight birdies and dropped just one shot to par as he moved in front by one shot. He only had 26 putts while hitting 79 percent of his fairways and 83 percent of his greens in regulation.
Ricky Barnes has not had a lot of success at the John Deere Classic. He’s played in the event in three times previously and never made a cut.
Barnes’ luck appears to be changing during Thursday’s first round at TPC Deere Run. He’s just made his seventh birdie of the day at the 15th hole to move to 6 under and into a tie for the lead with Lee Janzen.
On the other hand, Janzen’s made seven appearances at the John Deere Classic and cashed checks in his llast four. But he has yet to post a top-10 finish, his best, in fact, is a tie for 23rd in 2009.
Ted Potter Jr., who picked up his first PGA TOUR victory last week at The Greenbrier Classic, is among a big group at 4 under, two strokes off the lead.
CROMWELL, Conn. -- The Travelers Championship doesn’t start until Thursday, but Ricky Barnes cashed the first check of the week, winning the tournament’s 15 1/2 Challenge -- a competition between 22 players to see who could hit closest to the pin on the iconic 40-foot wide, 15-foot long red umbrella in the water left of the drivable par-4 15th hole.
Barnes hit his shot to 2 feet, 8 inches early Tuesday, then watched to see if it would hold up. It did, and Barnes received $10,000 for the Ricky Barnes Foundation.
Barnes and his wife, Suzanne, established the foundation to benefit youth programs related to health, sports and fitness in the San Joaquin County where they both grew up in California.
“All the thanks goes to Travelers for hosting us at a great tournament and doing great charity events like this,” said Barnes. “After hearing the news that I won, I told everyone that I should have started my Foundation earlier. I just started it in February with my wife so this check will go to a great cause.”
Previous winners of the event include Chad Campbell and Justin Rose.
The tee times for the first round of this week’s RBC Heritage have been released. CLICK HERE for the tee times. Use the space below to comment about the pairings at Harbour Town.
Here’s a look at some of the notable groups in the first two rounds:
Luke Donald/Kyle Stanley/Brandt Snedeker
All three players have won on the PGA TOUR this year, but the real story is the Donald/Snedeker rematch from last year's playoff at Harbour Town. Or it is the Snedeker/Stanley rematch from this year's playoff at Torrey Pines?
Bill Haas/Ernie Els/Padraig Harrington
Haas, the reigning FedExCup champion, is paired with two international superstars in the midst of career comebacks. Harrington has two top-10s in six starts this year, while Els has three top-fives in his last four starts.
Webb Simpson/Zach Johnson/Bud Cauley
This group almost spans three different generations. Cauley, a 22-year-old rookie, was one of the hottest players on TOUR before the Masters. However, rookies almost never do well at Harbour Town. Simpson, 26, has been under the radar after an epochal 2011, and still has three top-10s already in 2012.
John Daly/Rickie Fowler/Ricky Barnes
With Daly's pants and Fowler's hats, there will be lots of colorful clothes in this group. Barnes nearly won here last year before fading into a tie for fourth. Fowler has two starts here, one of them a tie for eighth in his first try in 2010.
Lucas Glover/Matt Kuchar/Geoff Ogilvy
Glover and Kuchar, a pair of Sea Island, Ga. residents, consider Harbour Town a local event. They will be paired with Ogilvy, who added Harbour Town to his schedule for the first time since 2007.
Now, it’s your turn: Which groups are you most interested in following this week?
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM
HUMBLE, Texas -- A case of food poisoning can …. refresh you?
Even Ricky Barnes had to laugh at what he’d just said.
He spent Tuesday night battling a nasty case of food poisoning and Thursday morning shooting a 6-under-par 66 in the opening round of the Shell Houston Open.
“I recovered on and off the golf course,’’ he said. “It was a good turn-around. I was fortunate I wasn't in the pro-am yesterday. Allowed me to get some rest. I literally just came out and putted yesterday for about 45 minutes. It was a good turn-around, kind of refreshed me and I guess put it in perspective.’’
It did something alright. Something as in no bogeys and a spot one shot behind the early co-leaders Angel Cabrera and Carl Petterson.
Barnes, one of a group of players hoping to play his way into the Masters this week, played an almost flawless round, finishing just before the horn blew to suspend play.
“Lot of tap-ins when I was making pars and, like you said, I mean two tap-ins out of the fairway and a two-putt on No. 13 for birdie,’’ said Barnes, whose best finish this year is a third at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am. “So, it was pretty stress-free.’’
The former U.S. Amateur champ tied for 20th at last year’s Masters and shared 10th in 2010 and would love to get back, but said he’s not thinking about that. At least right now.
“I’m swinging free right now,’’ he said. “You won’t think about that until Sunday if you’re close.’’
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Interesting scene just now outside the media center at the Northern Trust Open.
The large white tent is located in a stand of trees between the first and second fairways. Ricky Barnes ended up hitting his drive off No. 2 to the left and the ball appeared to hit one of the hardwoods -- only no one saw where it eventually landed.
About 30 people tramped around in the rough, helping Barnes look for his ball. Several even peeled back the green netting and looked under the flooring of the media center.
When it couldn't be located, Barnes took the cover off his driver, hopped in a golf cart and headed back to the tee. He again drove left into the first cut, but managed to put his fourth shot on the green.
Barnes, who had just birdied No. 1 to get back to even par, then two-putted from 13 feet for the double bogey. Barnes came to Riviera with momentum after finishing third last week at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.