Ricky Barnes has put together a Norman-esque past couple of rounds. After setting a 36-hole U.S. Open record with an 8 under-par performance, and then threatening to run away with the tournament, Barnes bogeyed six out of 13 holes. As I write this, he sits at -2 and two strokes off the lead after a slew of horrendous shots to start Monday's final round.
I mean this as a compliment, I really do. Sure,has been known as one of the greatest choke-artists of all time. In the 1996 Masters, he held a 6-stroke lead going into the final round. He then shot a 78, essentially handing the trophy over to . In 2008, he gave a two-stroke Sunday lead to eventual champion British Open champion . Arguably ' greatest major victory -- the 1986 Masters -- came after he chased down Norman from behind. A few years ago, ESPN's Page 2 named Norman the number one greatest choke artist of all time.
BUT - that's not to say Norman isn't talented. He won the PGA Championship twice, he was the first golfer to surpass $10 million in career earnings, and he even has a cool nickname (The White Shark).
Ricky Barnes fits into this mold. He is a former U.S. Amateur Champion, and for gosh sakes, he now holds the 36-hole U.S. Open record.This is no Jean Van de Velde flash-in-the-pan choke (Google his name and you'll know what I mean). I really hope he wins, but let's face it, Barnes has already fashioned himself into the "lovable choker" niche so nicely. No, I suspect we will see Ricky Barnes grimacing and giving up Sunday major leads for years to come.
Now all he needs is a cool nickname.