How Mike Stoops helped Ricky Barnesby Anthony Gimino on Apr. 08, 2010, under Sports
This is a theory I first promoted last summer when ex-Arizona Wildcat golfer Ricky Barnes was making a run at the U.S. Open championship. And now Barnes is near the top of the leaderboard after one round of The Masters.
Barnes won the 2002 U.S. Amateur — and dazzled early at The Masters in 2003, shooting an opening-round 69 while playing with Tiger Woods. Barnes was young and brash and photogenic. His raw talent was off the charts. Superstar qualities.
But golf isn’t easy, and Barnes never had the reputation as the hardest worker. He struggled to fulfill his promise, toiling on the Nationwide Tour until barely qualifying for his first PGA Tour card for 2009. But at least he got to play with the big boys most weeks.
As it was, Barnes didn’t do much last season until reaching Bethpage Black. He led the U.S. Open by one shot heading into the third and fourth rounds.
His caddy for that event was his brother, Andy, a former UA golfer and current Arizona assistant coach. Barnes told CBSSports.com last summer that this was his enduring message to his brother:
“I keep telling him, hard work beats out talent every day,” Andy said.
It sounds like something Andy routinely sees on the wall of the McKale Center weight room.
When Stoops arrived as the head football coach in 2003, his first and most important job was to instill a work ethic on a talent-depleted roster. He instructed that these words be painted on a wall in the weight room:
“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
So, that’s how I think that Mike Stoops, in a roundabout way, has helped Ricky Barnes.
Andy is back as Ricky’s caddy at Augusta National this week, and Barnes opened with a 4-under 68 on Thursday, two shots off the lead. Barnes’ second-place finish at the U.S. Open earned him a spot in this year’s Masters, which he hasn’t played since his amateur days in 2003.
“I love being back here,” he said after his round. “I always wanted to get back here as a pro and not just an invite from a member. So I’m glad to be back.”
Two other ex-Cats didn’t fare as well. Rory Sabbatini is tied for 63rd at 3-over. Jim Furyk, who has a history of playing well at The Masters, is tied for 92nd in the 96-man field, shooting an 80.