By Helen Ross, PGATOUR,COM Chief of Correspondents
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Ricky Barnes appears to be picking up where he left off on Friday during the second round of the Masters Tournament.
The former U.S. Amateur champion birdied all four par 5s on Thursday as he opened with a 68. And Barnes picked up his first birdie in the second round on the second hole, a 575-yard par 5 that is called “Pink Dogwood.”
Barnes has added birdies at the par-3 fourth and sixth holes to move to 7 under and into a tie for the lead with Y.E. Yang and Rory McIlroy. Yang is a hole ahead and has answered an opening bogey with three straight birdies.
Barnes is playing in his third Masters this week, and he’s proven to be a quick learner. He finished 21st as an amateur in his 2003 debut and tied for 10th a year ago. Thursday’s 68 matched his lowest round at Augusta National.
And what is Barnes’ most important lesson to date? You’ve got to take advantage of the par 5s.
“It's kind of self‑explanatory,” Barnes said. “In past years when Tiger and Phil have won, and Zach Johnson talked about laying up but he still tore up the par 5s. He might not have been able to reach them in two with 5‑ and 4‑irons but was still taking advantage of them.
“If you are going to play well out here, you are not going to live and die by playing the par 3s and par 4s well out here. You have to cash in on some par 5s. You probably have to get at least two or three of them a day, and then take advantage when you hit good drives on a hole and you get those wedges and 9‑irons in your hand.”